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The humane slaughter of farm animals is of great concern to the CFHS, partly because Canada’s regulations are weak, but mostly because enforcement is inadequate.

Humane slaughter first surfaced as a major issue in Canada in the 1950s. In fact, the CFHS was initially created over concerns about this issue, and was instrumental in passing the Humane Slaughter of Animals Act in 1960. This Act was repealed in 1985 when legislation concerning the humane slaughter of farm animals was incorporated under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations. The Regulations outline the requirements for the humane treatment of animals leading up to slaughter as well as humane methods of slaughter.

In addition to Canada’s somewhat weak slaughter regulations, the incredibly lax enforcement of these regulations results in some very problematic slaughter practices. Animals are frequently handled roughly, frightened and subjected to repeated shocks with electric prods as they are moved along the line. Because government inspectors are usually absent when animals are slaughtered, some animals are inadequately stunned (rendered unconscious) before being hoisted upside down to have their throats cut. Such inhumane treatment has been documented in Canada in 2003 by reports from Dr. Temple Grandin, the leading North American expert on humane slaughter, and more recently by undercover video footage taken at Canadian horse slaughter plants.

The CFHS would like to see the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have more authority and resources to oversee the slaughter of food animals, and for this agency to take the responsibility of enforcement more seriously.

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