Tag Archives: ractopamine

Torture for Profit – The Business Model of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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red tape

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

As if there wasn’t enough misery in the lives of farm animals…….

By now you’ve probably read about the “Canadian Food Inspection Agency sanctioned” abuse at federally licensed Western Hog Exchange in Alberta, filmed by undercover investigator. The undercover video shows the arrival oftop hat tip dead pigs, lame pigs, pigs being hit with electric prods, and jammed with metal gates. In some instances, CFIA inspectors are present and are videoed providing staff with electric prods which are in violation of Western Hog regulations. All this serves to raise questions about CFIA oversight and investigation and enforcement of anti-cruelty regulations.  Why does it always take an undercover operation to expose something terrible happening on the CFIA’s watch?

The footage, filmed by Mercy For Animals, was given to W5, CTV’s investigative program, as part of their “These Little Piggies” expose. W5 made multiple attempts to interview either Dr. Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, or failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, for this segment. In an incredible feat of bureaucratic idiocy and exasperating obfuscation, the CFIA, who claim to be intolerant of farm animal abuse, side-steps the issue and refuses an interview at least until W5 ambushes Archibald in the parking lot. Too bad the media types at the CFIA never understood the phrase “when you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.”

W5’s negotiation process with the CFIA looks like this:

September 3, 2014 – W5 e-mails CFIA providing a synopsis of the video, our initial questions, and seeking an interview with CFIA President Bruce Archibald

W5 is producing a story about the transportation of and handling of pigs in Canada. As part of this investigation, W5 has been provided with hidden camera video inside the Red Deer location of the Western Hog Exchange.

September 11, 2014 – CFIA responds to W5’s request for an interview and responds to some of W5’s written questions

I am responding to your recent requests for an interview with Dr. Bruce Archibald. Dr. Archibald is unavailable for an interview however the information you requested is below. Please contact me if you have further questions.

Thank you,

CFIA Media Relations

Question 1: What are Canada’s animal transport and welfare regulations?

Answer: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not condone or tolerate any abusive behaviour towards animals and investigates all allegations of animal mistreatment.

The CFIA enforces the humane treatment of animals in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations. Broadly speaking, these regulations aim to prevent the undue suffering of animals during transport and during slaughter at federally registered facilities. These regulations are enforced through inspections at various locations such as border entry points, livestock auction markets and slaughter plants.

Most Canadian producers, transporters and processors are strongly committed to treating animals humanely. In the cases of non-compliance, the Agency works closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community to encourage immediate reporting of any animal welfare concerns to the appropriate regulatory authority. Rapid, detailed reporting places us in the best possible position to take appropriate enforcement actions.

Question 2: What are the current regulations on transport times, limits for feed, water and rest, andtruck conditions on animal welfare, and animal handling during the transportation process?

Answer: Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport. The Health of Animals Regulations require that animals be in good physical condition to travel and that the trip be made under suitable conditions (ventilation, duration, loading density, and proper construction of trailers and conveyances

Question 3: Can the CFIA provide their records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange from May 1,2014 to August 31, 2014?

Answer: There have been no issues of non-compliance identified by the CFIA against the Western Hog Exchange in the past year and, therefore, no enforcement actions taken by the CFIA.

September 12, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

If Dr. Archibald is unavailable, we request an on-camera interview with the person who oversees CFIA inspectors or someone else from the CFIA who can speak to these issues.

September 12, 2014 – CFIA responds and requests a copy of the hidden camera footage, while not agreeing to any interview

The CFIA takes any allegations of animal mistreatment seriously. In order for us to conduct an appropriate investigation, we request that you forward us the video footage.

September 12, 2014 – W5 responds offering to bring the video to the CFIA office and screen it for them prior to any on-camera interview

We propose the following: our reporter, Victor Malarek, will bring a copy of the video to your offices and show it to the person designated to be interviewed (off-camera). Immediately after he or she has viewed the video, we would expect an on-camera interview.

We have previously enumerated the instances contained in the video in advance of its showing to provide an idea of what the interviewee will see:

  1. a)      Pigs being transported in extreme heat;
  2. b)      Pigs dead on arrival;
  3. c)       Pigs coming off trucks that are too injured to stand or move on their own being forced to move with bats, feet, prodded with electric prods, or pushed with heavy gates;
  1. d)      Boars de-tusked to the gum level,
  2. e)      Questionable euthanasia practices;
  3. f)       Overcrowding.

In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present.

September 17, 2014 – CFIA responds saying an interview is not feasible and responds more of W5’s initial questions

In order for us to initiate a proper and detailed investigation, it is essential that several CFIA animal welfare experts thoroughly view the footage. Typically, this process requires multiple viewings and consultation with other officials in the CFIA. Therefore, it would not be feasible to conduct an interview under the scenario you have proposed.

The CFIA takes allegations of animal mistreatment during transport or slaughter seriously and investigates reports of mistreatment. It is important to re-emphasize that we cannot proceed with a full investigation of this situation until we are provided and can appropriately examine the video footage.

Question 1: Can you provide information on the CFIA records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange (WHE) from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 including inspector compliance verification records and non-compliance reports?

Answer: At this facility, WHE employees identify and exclude from slaughter suspect or unsatisfactory animals. CFIA inspectors then verify that the remaining animals are suitable for slaughter and that proper procedures are followed to produce safe meat. There were379,769 animals presented for CFIA inspection during this period. No animals were condemned based on these inspections.

CFIA inspectors also verify that animals arriving at this facility have been transported in a humane manner. It is important to note that CFIA inspectors are not on site for all arrivals; however, the CFIA did conduct 84 humane transport verifications during this period. No non-compliance reports were issued.

Question 2: Were there any “letters of warning” written to the Western Hog Exchange by the CFIA from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014? If so, how many? Can we get copies?

Answer: No letters of warning were issued during this period.

September 17, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

As we continue our reporting, today we interviewed a representative of Western Hog Exchange who agreed to be interviewed immediately after screening the video with his colleagues. We are prepared to do the same for CFIA.

i.e. to screen the video to as many people as you like, and the opportunity to screen the footage multiple times, in order to allow you to thoroughly view and examine the footage, provided that an interview is granted immediately afterward.

October 1, 2014 – W5’s Senior Reporter Victor Malarek approaches CFIA president Bruce Archibald directly to seek answers and to request an interview. (The exchange is recorded by W5’s cameras and can be seen in our report.)

October 2, 2014 – Following the approach to Archibald, CFIA’s Executive Director of Strategic Communications, James Stott, calls W5:

We are prepared to offer an interview. Our spokesperson is in Western Canada, we would have him available in Calgary.

There would be a condition to the interview, and that is that the footage that was taken today and yesterday at our headquarters not be used. … We’d like an opportunity to be part of a fair and balanced story and I don’t think that’s possible with that footage being used.

October 2, 2014 – W5 responds, accepting their offer of an interview, but declining the CFIA’s conditions

According to CTV News Policy, we cannot undertake to withhold any video that has already been shot.

We have been asking for an interview for more than 4 weeks. We find it very interesting that you come to us now with an offer, after we approached Dr. Archibald yesterday. That said, in the interests of fairness we remain interested in an on-camera interview.

Victor and our crew are available to tape an on-camera interview with a spokesperson or representative from CFIA in Ottawa tomorrow, Friday, October 3, 2014, until 5 pm Eastern Time.

October 3, 2014There is no response from CFIA

mediocrityIt’s hardly surprising that there are so many lame pigs in the video – pigs fed ractopamine are at increased risk for exhibiting downer pig syndrome. Ractopamine, a growth promoter, has been banned in 160 countries as a suspected carcinogen. The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and a protruding tongue. In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals. There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug. Inexplicably, the FDA approved the drug, although other countries certainly paid attention to the scandal.

The CFIA, in their hatred of both animals and humans, has also simply ignored research that clearly warns of the danger represented by this drug to humans and the inhumanity to pigs. Even China, home of infant formula contamination, aluminum-contaminated dumplings, and glow-in-the-dark pork, has banned ractopamine, which is given to pigs in their last 4 weeks.

Animal abuse by agri-business does not appear to be a blip on CFIA radar, but they have no problem using extreme prejudice against small farmers and businesses. In 2012 the agency notified Wholearth Farm that they intended to destroy an entire herd of rare Shropshire sheep. The order was made under a federal program to eradicate scrapie, an illness that affects the productivity and longevity of sheep but can’t be transmitted to humans. The CFIA went on to waste more taxpayer money in the sheep-napping investigation that followed. The Wholearth farm was raided multiple times by the CFIA, who threatened the farmer with up to 12 years in jail and fines of up to $1.5 million, even though none of the sheep were determined to have scrapie. It is fascinating how a very simple act of civil disobedience (refusing to hand over the rare sheep to be killed) unleashed an investigation worthy of searching for a mass murderer or a drug cartel.

Contrast the decision to eradicate the healthy sheep to one by the CFIA to declare fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia – a disease it says poses no risk to human heath. Because the U.S. won’t import fish with the virus, the salmon will have to find dinner plates to land on somewhere in Canada. A marine biologist says infectious salmon anemia is an influenza-type virus and can mutate in unpredictable ways, especially if it comes into contact with another flu virus in a human being.LIPSTICKONAPIG

While allowing infected fish in the marketplace, the shallow talent pool at the CFIA have chosen to target Field Roast vegetarian “meat” products, for labelling compliance issues, forcing the vegan company to halt Canadian distribution. It looks like we will need a special act of parliament to allow the Field Roast product into the Canadian marketplace, thanks to this misguided ruling by the CFIA. Virus-infected fish = OK , but vegetarian meat replacements = NON-COMPLIANT WITH CFIA LABELLING REGULATIONS.

It’s simply astonishing that industries that torture and abuse animals have been left relatively untouched by the CFIA while they persecute both a small sheep farmer and the manufacturer of a vegan meat replacement product.  The CFIA has set something of a national record for blundering in a single government agency – an agency where lying and bullshitting have also become part of its business model.

In his classic 1986 essay “On Bullshit,” Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt makes an important distinction between lying and mere “bullshit.” The liar knows and cares about the truth but deliberately sets out to deny or disguise it; the bullshitter doesn’t care about the truth, he is simply trying to impress us or sell us something. The honest man and the liar really care about the facts but the bullshitter isn’t concerned with the facts except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says:  He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them up, or makes them up, to suit his purposes.

Please sign the Mercy for Animals petition.

Please also see Canadian Horse Defence Coalition blog posts about CFIA misfeasance.

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Down To The Wire

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horse out of timeWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Last October slaughterphiles in the US and Canada watched in horror as all their latent fears came true.  Despite holding on to the promise of horse slaughter as tight as a tick on a long-tailed mare, they watched and listened in disbelief as Claude Bouvry inexplicably ceased to accept American horses for slaughter for a weekend.  No one had any notice and certainly no clear explanation, despite lots of theories about residues and EU audits.  If they were following the plot,  these slaughterphiles would really be losing control of their sphincter muscle right about now because that temporary panic was just practice.  We’re now less than two weeks ago from the July 31st deadline, as originally identified in the GAO report.  But.  since many pros are notoriously unprepared and unaware of issues surrounding horse slaughter (they blithely ignore most evidence of cruelty),  most of them refuse to believe that horse slaughter might someday go away.

Nobody in the horse industry had ever heard of July 31,2013 as some sort of drop-dead date.  That is until it was included in the GAO report, which declared July 31st as the date that the EU would require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered outside of the EU.  While there’s a big rush to launch traceability for horses in Canada,  no one knows or will elaborate on what,  if anything,  this date means to horse slaughter in Canada.

A few months back I contacted Equine Canada asked them pointedly whether there was a big rush to get traceability implemented in Canada, and asked them specifically about that magic date.  They told me they had no idea to what I was referring, and asked me to contact some soulless minion at the CFIA, who of course never responded.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Dr. Ian Alexander in the hopes that he might let me know if I had to run to out and get a Premise ID for my “farm,” or whether we might be able to look forward to a seriously diminished Canadian horse slaughter enterprise in less than 2 weeks.

passing-of-timeOf course, I don’t have an answer yet, and maybe I never will.  Or maybe I’ll get the standard form letter that assures me that the CFIA has everything under control.  But in addition to the temporary slaughter shut-down in October, there’s more foreshadowing of what might come down the pipeline,  if not in two weeks,  but eventually.  Like the hammer of an auctioneer at the end of an auction or a judge at the end of a trial, said hammer will also fall on us.

There are many hints that food adulteration is becoming increasingly intolerable to our trading partners:

Ractopamine,  a growth promoter,   is given to beef cattle during their last 4-6 weeks, to pigs in their last 4 weeks, and turkeys for their last 1-2 weeks.  The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa here in Canada found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and protruding tongue.

In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals.    There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug.

Inexplicably, the FDA went on to approve ractopamine for cattle the following year even after sending a warning letter to Elanco (a subsidiary of Eli Lilly) on its deception and abuse of the approval process of Paylean for pigs.

Even though the FDA rolled over on ractopamine, other countries paid attention to the scandal with the growth enhancing drug banned in Russia, Europe, Taiwan and China where an estimated 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs.  You know that the industrial food system is fucked-up when the Russians know more about our food system than we do.

South Korea has banned and then un-banned US wheat.  This comes after the announcement about the contamination of US commercially grown wheat with Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat.  It was un-banned earlier this month after Ian Alexander dunce caption1samples showed all were free of the unapproved genetically-modified wheat strain.

Meanwhile, Canada is renovating our parliamentary buildings to cleanse them of asbestos, which of course causes cancer. While doing so, the Canadian government is still pushing exports of asbestos to third-world countries. Canada has even gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice. Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of hundreds of thousands of cancer victims in Europe, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell it worldwide to developing nations.  It’s the new tobacco – find a market for toxic goods and pawn it off on the poor brown people of the world.  It’s really embarrassing to be a Canadian when you know that your government is implicated in shit like this,  but what would you expect from a country that hasn’t revised its animal protection laws significantly for 200 years and still promotes the seal hunt and ignores the issues with horse slaughter?

So the point is that our trading partners are fickle groups, and at any point in time we can become the recipient of the fickle finger of fate.  The world is becoming more aware of the health hazards of food contamination through animal rearing activities.  Which is really ironic since most horses aren’t actually “reared” for food.  There is no such thing as an animal that is duel purpose – meaning an animal that is a pet to most AND also one that is used as a food source.   We have pet animals and food animals – not both.

You can read the letter to Dr. Alexander below:

***********************************************************************************************************************************

“Dear Dr. Alexander,

Under regulations of the Health of Animals Act, Canada has a mandatory identification program for cattle, bison and sheep. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have expanded that program to include horses.  According to AAFC, horses are functional livestock and are part of the national ID and traceability strategy for animal health and food safety reasons.

Equine Canada, the comprehensive national governing body for equestrianism, is responsible for developing a national equine-specific program (CanEQUID) to satisfy federal government requirements for identification and traceability for equines.  This program would somehow have to be imposed upon US horses coming to Canada as well,  since, after spending several years and millions on the National Animal Identification System , (NAIS) the U.S. Department  of Agriculture (USDA) apparently scrapped the effort and turned responsibility for livestock identification over to the 50 states and various tribal nations.  But for horses sent to Canada for slaughter,  Americans would also have to adopt the UELN, which may result in greater scrutiny for premises ID than that currently experienced for gun control.

Also simultaneously moving forward are the new CFIA meat hygiene directives that affect horsemeat – as of July 31st this year, Canadian slaughter facilities will require complete health records dating back six months.  This would apparently phase-out the often fallaciously completed Equine Information Document (EID), which has failed to assure EU members that drugs are not entering the food chain.   The deadline (July 2013) was created in an exchange between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and SANGO, which is the EU’s version of the CFIA. The working group which includes the CFIA,  Agri-Food Canada,  Health Canada,  the slaughterhouses,  provincial horse groups and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.  You can also read the reference to the July 31, 2013 date in the GAO report – (page 13)  It states:

Ian Alexander kool-aid“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.”

What action is supposed to be undertaken by the EU on July 31, 2013?    It seems clear that the EU is referring to traceability here, which would seemingly eliminate the EID.  Would you be able to explain what action Canada will be taking with regard to horsemeat shipments after this date?

Here’s the CanEquid  Strategy document.

The CanEQUID model is based on an electronic passport system with an individual record for each horse. The electronic passport record will include:

  • Unique identification information, including a unique lifetime number
  • Horse ownership information
  • Home farm premises information
  • Premises date and location where horses co-mingle for industry activities
  • Horse health records related to a horse’s status for processing
  • Traceability events – health certificates issued, transport manifest documents issued, etc.

Is Canada’s traceability program going to work for U.S. horses?  It doesn’t seem possible,  since no one in Canada can attest to an individual horse’s status for slaughter.

If a traceability system is not in place by July 31st, what does Ag-Canada anticipate will happen to horsemeat shipments?  Is it likely that this date will be extended?”

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada