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Humane treatment of food animals at the slaughter establishment

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements may apply in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

The outcome of humane treatment of the food animal at your slaughter establishment must be to prevent avoidable suffering, injury or death during all slaughter activities. In the context of these regulations, your responsibilities for the food animals to be slaughtered at your establishment begins with the receiving of the food animals or receiving of the food animals in crates, cages or modules, including the time they are being transported to the any area of the facility or its associated outside premises.

Humane treatment includes any animal care requirements such as, holding the animals in pens inside the facility, or holding the animals in pens or animals contained in crates, cages or modules still stacked on trucks outside the facility prior to their slaughter. Your operational measures must provide the necessary conditions at the establishment identified in your licence to optimize the humane treatment of the food animals at all times.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand these requirements, specific criteria and examples are outlined below. The examples are not exhaustive but help illustrate the intent of the requirement and offer ideas on what you could do to comply. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) glossary.

Section 127: Avoidable death

Examples:

Section 128: Humane handling and avoidable suffering, injury or death

Examples:

  • You ensure that food animals are unloaded from the trucks in a timely and humane manner upon receiving with minimal use of driving tools and minimal waiting time in the trucks
  • You ensure that ritual slaughterers, whom you contract, are fully qualified to conduct ritual slaughter without stunning and do so in a competent manner
  • You ensure that operational conditions in your establishment prevent the death of poultry or rabbits while still contained in cages, modules or crates on the truck or in a holding area prior to their slaughter through the judicious use of ventilation, shade, shelters and covers, especially in extreme weather conditions
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Subsection 129 (1) and 129 (2): Use of tools for moving food animals

Examples:

  • Your employees are well trained not to automatically pick up the electric prod to move animals and try other tools or techniques first, using their knowledge of the principles of animal behaviour.
  • The electric prod should not be used on an animal already in motion to speed it up.
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Subections 130 (1), 130 (2), 130 (3), 130 (4), 130 (5):

Examples:

Section 131: Game animals over which you have direct control

Examples:

  • Game animals over which you have direct control could include any wild muskox which you have contained in a corral or other enclosure prior to slaughter

Subsections 132 (a), (b), (c): Segregation and Isolation

Examples:

  • Bulls should be isolated to avoid them injuring the other bovines because of their aggressive natures
  • Horses that are aggressive or with shoes on their hind feet should be isolated to avoid them injuring the other horses
  • Stressed hogs should be isolated to protect them from the other animals
  • Animals with newborns should be isolated from the other animals to protect the newborn animals from other animals
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Section 133: Overcrowding

Examples:

  • You ensure the holding pens do not result in overcrowding of animals by your planned scheduling of arrival of lots or loads of animals through effective communication with the producers and transporters
  • Your program includes instructions to fill the crowd pens about half full prior to the stunning pens or restraint equipment to prevent the animals from panicking and injuring each other by jumping on top of each other
  • You ensure the gondolas for the gas stunning system are not overloaded to prevent the pigs from jumping on top of each other because of lack of space
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Section 134: Ventilation

Examples:

  • You provide adequate ventilation, depending on ambient temperature and humidity, for poultry held in crates or modules in the holding area or outdoor shelter in order to prevent death from overheating of birds in hot weather or freezing to death of birds in cold weather
  • You maintain the proper ventilation and humidity depending on ambient temperature and humidity for hogs to prevent overheating under extremely hot weather conditions or frostbite in freezing temperatures
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Subparagraphs: 135 (1) (a), 135 (1) (b) Handling

Examples:

  • Your employees are well trained to understand animal behaviour and know the best practices for handling the food animals during any slaughter activity
  • Your employees know how to handle crates, cages or modules with animals from the conveyance, including the use of any automated equipment for this purpose
  • Your employees remove the birds from the crates or modules and hang them on the shackle line with care to avoid injury to the legs
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.

Subsection 135 (2): Areas of establishment and equipment

Examples:

  • You use the proper cartridge and bolt length of the captive bolt pistol stunning gun for the species and size of food animal as per manufacturer's recommendations
  • You maintain the captive bolt pistol stunning gun on a regular schedule as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Your design of the restraint equipment and stun box allows the ritual slaughterer to execute a ritual cut properly and consistently without any impediments from the equipment or area where it is located
  • Your areas where food animals are held or moved, including ramps, holding pens, alleyways, chutes, crowd pens and restraining boxes are designed to take into account the natural behaviour of animals and to prevent injury, including the use of non-slip flooring where required to minimize slipping and falling of the animals
  • For additional information refer to:

Subsections 136 (1), 136 (2): Water and feed

Examples:

  • You ensure that water is accessible to red meat food animals while they are held in the holding pens prior to slaughter.
  • For poultry in crates, you provide water or another source of hydration in the crates no later than 24 hours after receiving the lot
  • You provide feed to all food animals no later than 24 hours if they are to be held for prolonged periods of time
  • For additional information, refer to Guidelines for the humane care and handling of food animals at slaughter.
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