Tag Archives: “Gerry Ritz”

Food Scientist Claims “Liquid Poured On Pigs” A Biosecurity Risk #PIGTRIAL

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toronto-pig-save-transport-11Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…. the actions of these activists simply aren’t safe – not only not for themselves, the truck drivers and their pigs. But also for the consumers,”  writes Keith Warriner,  Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph.The seemingly humane gesture of feeding water to pigs can actually jeopardize the system and impact the food you serve to your family.The trial taking place in Toronto has touched upon various angles of this incident. But the key issue is the interference with food safety. For anyone who eats pork, this is a product of a food processing system. And it’s absolutely essential that it’s produced in a closed system that hasn’t been tampered with.”

Dr Warriner recently chose to write a guest column that appeared in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun papers.  Instead of providing an evidence-based opinion on any one of the prevalent food-related pathways to disease and sickness in Canada,  he chose to write about the “unknown liquid” that Anita Krajnc and other Toronto Pig Save activists had given to pigs on the day Dr. Krajnc was charged. It doesn’t appear that anyone believes that there were contaminants in the water the activists have given to the pigs before or since Anita’s arrest – apparently neither Fearman’s Pork nor Van Boekel Hog Farms believes this,  otherwise,  the animals would not have been slaughtered for food.  Neither does the CFIA apparently believe the pigs were contaminated,  since they issued no recall that I could find.  If there was the slightest belief that the water was poisoned,  the bottles would have been confiscated and the water tested.  To the best of my knowledge,  there was no economic loss resultant to the watering of the pigs and NO CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED.

The CFIA classifies recalls based on the level of health risk associated with the food product being recalled. High risk triggers include illness outbreaks,  food test results, inspection img_0560findings,  and consumer complaints.  In 2014 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued 714 recalls, following 467 recalls  in 2013 and 595 in 2012, Undeclared allergens (unlisted ingredients or product mislabeling) and microbial contaminations make up the majority of recalls,  according to Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

The Red Meat Condemnation report from Agriculture Canada provides a testament to the true brutality of both the transport and slaughter operations.  In 2015, 20,244,822 pigs were slaughtered,  and 7.02 pigs per thousand slaughtered were found dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse.  That amounts to 14,221 pigs.  Almost as many pigs were condemned on ante-mortem inspection for abscesses, peritonitis, arthritis, pneumonia, septicemia, emaciation, hepatitis, bruising, hernia, fracture, and many other conditions, suggesting that perhaps more were in very poor condition upon arrival at the slaugherhouse.  According to CFIA prosecution notices for that same year,  no one was convicted of anything as a result.

kindness-to-pigs-on-a-cattle-trainI hope our food scientists will continue to bring attention to serious risks in the food supply,  rather than trying to pick off the “low-hanging fruit” that are the protests at slaughterhouses.  I would like to propose that Dr. Warriner write an article condemning the abuse of transport and the risks of veterinary drug contamination with horse slaughter in Canada.  Certainly horse slaughter is not a closed system – non-farmers are dealing in drugged meat with false and incomplete EIDs, concealing incompetence and deceit, often at the highest levels.  In fact,  I plan to send him an email asking him to do exactly that.

Those activists who wish to expose inhumane farming practices and give water to animals enroute to slaughter are not terrorists. Dr. Warriner,  I cannot respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism.  Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Videos of activists providing water to pigs have mobilized a movement towards improving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows.  In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom.

 

gerry-ritz-listeriosis-copy

When the news first broke that an outbreak of Listeriosis had resulted in the deaths of several Canadians, you might expect the minister responsible for food safety, to immediately step in, or at least take the matter seriously. Instead,  former Ag. Minister Gerry Ritz actually thought the whole matter rather funny, so much so that he immediately joked about the demise of the victims. Forget that it was under his watch – his funny bone was tickled and he wanted to share the feeling.

A look back at recent outbreaks and recalls in Canada,  courtesy of @Barfblog’s contributors, including Drs. Powell, Chapman, Hubbell and assorted food safety lecturers at Barfblog.com  – the unofficial internet gatekeepers on food-related illness and terrible reality cooking shows…

From toxic mothballs to blister beetles in food, there are no cautionary mentions of illness caused by the “tampering” of food by animal activists.

 

From the Animal Advocate’s Toolbox – Making an Access to Information Request

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Canada governmentWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

For the last few days I’ve been watching the 2014 Equine Summit held at Equine Advocates, on YouTube. Aside from the knowledge and quality of the speakers, one thing stood out for me – the sheer volume of information many of them have obtained by FOIA requests (in the US). While the information isn’t provided immediately, it’s incredibly informative, particularly when it comes to the activities of the BLM. Here in Canada, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has used the process to expose the misfeasance of government inspectors at slaughterhouses, as well as reveal to the public the dire conditions under which horses,  including pregnant mares,  are shipped for slaughter. Recently, an ATI (Access to Information) request was completed in concert with an American advocate in the US, in order to “triangulate” the transit time for a shipment of horses made by Jeron Gold, which was videotaped in November 2013 heading to Richelieu slaughterhouse at about 4pm (because we know the arrival time at slaughterhouses is often fudged to come in under the regulation 36 hours).

Some backstory on the Access to Information Act – Canada was just the eighth country in the world to guarantee citizens the right to request government records in accordance with top hat tip to lonidisclosure law, when we passed the ATIA on Canada Day, 1983. What we have is a version of free information, which is not exactly the same thing as open government. The main principles of this Act are: government information should be available to the public; exemptions to this right should be limited and specific; and decisions on disclosure of information should be reviewed independently of government. Through the ATI Act, the Canadian press has discovered that the executive office of any party in power (although particularly the Harper government) tends to be somewhat adversarial to the process,  and considers any groups involved in environmental or animal rights to be part of the “green scare.” Greenpeace, PeTA, and probably other groups in Canada (and maybe even this blog writer) are considered to be “terrorist” groups, and this was confirmed by requesting government documents. Good to know!

So this blog is all about providing some guidelines and links so that interested parties can do their own ATI requests with confidence. Obviously, if you request information, you should have a good idea in advance what you are seeking to find out. You should have a specific timeline in mind, and be specific about what you need.  Ask for information that could solve a problem or answer a question. You should have a plan in advance that will allow you to do something useful with the information, such as use it to build a case for your MP to do something, write to MPs, correct an invalid assumption, write a cover letter and send it to the newspapers, or blog it, etc. You can also request personal information about yourself too, and if it is incorrect, you have the right to have it corrected. But don’t waste your money or the government’s time (the system is under incredible strain already) just for curiosity’s sake. Make it count.

ATI requests can only be completed by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or any other person (or entity) present in Canada. An individual who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident cannot make a request from outside Canada unless it is made by a representative who is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a person present in Canada on behalf of the individual. Start by submitting a written request, which must contain the following:

  • The full name,  signature of the requester, Canadian mailing address, and if possible, a telephone number and/or e-mail address where the requester can be contacted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays
  • A $5.00 application fee. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or money order. Cheques and money orders must be made payable to the Receiver General for Canada. The fee entitles the requester to five hours of search and preparation time. If your request will take more time, you will be notified of same and will be required to pay for this time in order for the ATI to proceed. Be sure to take this into consideration if you intend to ask for records for a long period of time (or have a strict budget).

There is an additional fee schedule for supplying documents:

  • for photocopying a page with dimensions of not more than 21.5 cm by 35.5 cm, $0.20 per page,
  • for microfiche duplication, non-silver, $0.40 per fiche,
  • for 16 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $12 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for 35 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $14 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for microform to paper duplication, $0.25 per page
  • for magnetic tape-to-tape duplication, $25 per 731.5 m reel
  • where the record requested is a non-computerized record, the head of the government institution may require payment in the amount of $2.50 per person per quarter hour for every hour in excess of five hours that is spent by any person on search and preparation. This may be the case with certain manually completed forms from slaughterhouses which are handwritten on paper.

The legislated timeframe for responding to Access to Information or Privacy requests is 30 calendar days. The Access to Information Act permits an institution to extend the time limit to respond to a request beyond the 30 calendar days if:

  • the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records, and the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution;
  • external consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within the original time limit

In all likelihood,your request WILL take longer than 30 days to process. If you are looking only for a few documents over a short period of time, you should receive your package in a few weeks. If you want records for an entire year or an extremely high volume of records, your request may take YEARS. Unless you can afford to have a fair chunk of money tied up for years waiting for boxes of information to be delivered to you, make sure you really need to have this quantity of information!

By processing your request under the ATIA, the government tells us that they will:

  1. Process the request without regard to our identity (but they may sometimes ask if you are related to an individual you are requesting information for).
  2. Offer reasonable assistance throughout the request process.
  3. Provide information on the Access to Information Act  including information on the processing of your request and your right to complain to the appropriate Commissioner of Canada. (you have 60 days from receipt of your documents to make a complaint)
  4. Inform us as appropriate and without undue delay when our request needs to be clarified.
  5. Make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the requested records or personal information under the control of the government institution.
  6. Apply limited and specific exemption
  7. Provide accurate and complete responses.
  8. Provide timely access to the requested information.
  9. Provide records or personal information in the format and official language requested, as appropriate.

Of course, there are various checks and balances that must be examined before the various branches of government will send you anything. It’s entirely possible that there may be no records for what you are seeking, or the information will simply not be disclosed. Refer to the Lexis Nexis info-graphic for the process involved in complying with an ATI request:

LexisNexisATIRequestFlowchart

Centennial Flame on Parliament HillOnce you’ve decided exactly what you want and have determined the time period, you will need to determine which federal government institution is most likely to have the information you are seeking. Most readers of this blog will probably be interested in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Each government institution also has an Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that any Access to Information and Privacy requests received by the government institution are responded to in accordance with the Acts and also for the application of the legislation within the institution. The list of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators, along with their contact information, is available online. You can also view completed ATI requests here.

If you are requesting information relative to a specific Canadian slaughterhouse, you will need to provide the correct code in order to process your request. For convenience sake, they are included below:

076 – Viande Richelieu Inc./Richelieu Meat Inc. (Quebec)

505 – Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc. (Quebec)

506 – Bouvry Export Calgary Ltd. (Alberta)

587 – KML Meat Processors Ltd. (British Columbia)

657 – Canadian Premium Meats Inc. (Alberta)

Please bear in mind that EIDS are not “owned” or retained by the CFIA or any other government agency. No branch of government retains photocopies either. The EID was cleverly designed to be a document that is owned by the Canadian Library of Parliament Ottawarespective slaughterhouse, and has a retention period of one year. Since slaughterhouses are privately owned entities, it’s not possible to request copies of EID forms via the Access to Information Act. Also bear in mind that if you are requesting documentation from Quebec (Richelieu or LPN slaughterhouses) you will receive your paperwork in French. Subsection 12(2) of the Access to Information Act provides for scenarios where records have been requested in one particular official language. If you want to receive the records in English, you must specify this request in advance, and it WILL come at additional cost and time, since translation services must be involved. You are better off to attempt to translate the documents yourself, even though many may be handwritten. So befriend or bribe a French-speaking person, if you are completely unable to translate any French at all.

Lastly, if you want to track your ATI submission, we suggest that you pay for a registered letter from Canada Post. Good luck with your searches, and may you find something that will be deeply embarrassing to Gerry Ritz or your MP.

Silence of the CFIA Lambs….

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passport medsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

July 31st, the supposed EU deadline for implementing a traceability system for horses in Canada, is a date that has come and gone.  Although many pro-slaughter advocates maintained that we all made up that date, it clearly originated from the GAO report on horse slaughter – Horse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.

“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”

cash paid for unwanted horsesEarlier in July I wrote to the CFIA to find out what was going down on July 31st.  While Dr. Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for the CFIA’s response did address some of the questions I posed in a letter, it also leaves some other questions completely unanswered or open to interpretation.  The most obvious acknowledgement by the CFIA is that the EU has apparently extended the date two or three years into the future, not that we will be ready by 2015 or 2016 either.  They’re really hedging their bets by including two possible implementation dates too!  Just in case they can’t get it together by 2015, well, there’s always next year!  Lather, rinse and repeat……..

Of course,  restrictions and deadlines hardly bothered the CFIA in the past,  but now they have this passport system with which to contend – a detailed electronic log of a horse’s lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given— including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, which is banned entirely, must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they can not be imported into EU nations.  Canada tried to implement traceability for horses before,  and seemed to give up after spending almost $500,000 to find out that it was unworkable,  no doubt due in part to the fact that many Canadian horse owners just don’t seem to be interested in paying for microchips and barn calls to satisfy third party concerns about the eligibility of our horses for meat.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Also of interest is the fact that Dr. Alexander tells us that the horsemeat market in Canada is worth $36 million, while we’ve always known it to generate around $70 million in the recent past.  Exactly what happened to halve the revenue of this industry in 2012?

Put down any beverages you are currently drinking, because you’ll probably  choke when you read that Dr. Alexander believes that the EID system is just as effective as the passporting system!  Well, perhaps he’s not really wrong, since they are both completely falsifiable and corruptable.  We saw this during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal early this year, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque,  and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability as does buying meat off the street from a stranger.

missingNotice also that “technical support” is being offered to both Equine Canada and Canada’s #1 slaugherphile Bill DesBarres of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  Is that CFIA-speak for throwing money at both groups?  Apparently, Canada can’t learn from the EU’s mistakes – we’re going to have two separate and distinct databases?  The same problems in the EU system – lack of control over the inputs into the database and duplicated records would happen here, and it would be even worse with two systems.  The EU has since realized that there were too many opportunities for unscrupulous people to make changes to the database, and are tightening up controls in that respect.  What gives veterinarians the idea that they should have any business involving themselves in the architecture and implementation of databases anyway?

I love the closing paragraph on Alexander’s correspondence, – they’ve got an “action plan to not stop exporting equine meat products to the EU Market.”  That’s right,  no matter what,  they’ll jury-rig the system and bamboozle the EU in order to maintain the status quo.  Of course they don’t allude to what their plans entail.  Whatever could the CFIA have told the EU to make them think we have a system with any credibility whatsoever?

The CFIA was given the dual and conflicting mandate to promote agri-food trade and sales,  as well as ensure food safety. That agency has a role to play in preventing the crime of allowing adulterated

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz.  Live export, horse slaughter, exploding sausages, lavish expenditures, and the downloading of responsibility for our food inspection to the un-elected private sector. Somebody stick a fork in Gerry Ritz. I think he’s done.

horsemeat into the market, but it’s clear that they should not be in charge of food protection whilst simultaneously sending the inexplicably still-employed Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz and others on missions around the world promoting trade.

Food safety in Canada has jumped the shark.  There’s just too much allegiance to old, outdated systems operating purely on faith.  Horses are not living beings exploited by this industry and its participants, but “products” to be exported like lumber.  Oh Canada, what have we got to be proud about when it comes to our treatment of horses?