June 22nd, 2024

Maple Leaf secures animal welfare rankingt

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2022.

Maple Leaf Foods was ranked among a small group of global leaders by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare. Herald photo by Al Beeber

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Maple Leaf Foods has been honoured for its efforts to take care of and improve animal welfare.
The company this week was ranked among a small group of global leaders by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.
Maple Leaf Foods was among 12 companies worldwide to be ranked in BBFAW’s Tier 2. It is one of only two North American companies to be ranked in the top two tiers and is the only Canadian firm.
BBFAW is an organization that analyses farm animal welfare practices, management systems reporting and performance of 150 of the largest food companies in the world. It calls itself “the leading global measure of farm animal welfare management, policy commitment, performance and disclosure in food companies.”
Maple Leaf says it has a “demonstrated record of innovation in animal care” which includes converting sow barns to open housing and taking other initiatives which include deploying trucks with hydraulic lifts to reduce pig stress when boarding and exiting; purchasing temperature-controlled poultry trailers to protect chickens in extreme cold weather; using enrichments in nursery, finisher and sow barns to encourage pigs to play and chew as they naturally would; and researching enrichments in poultry barns to encourage the natural behaviours of chickens to perch, peck and hide.
Veterinarian Kathleen Long, Maple Leaf’s Vice President of animal care, told The Herald Friday the rating was secured by “making and executing our commitments to animal welfare improvements.”
That commitment in several ways including the conversion to advanced open sow housing which was 100 per cent completed in 2021. That system enables sows to choose when they eat, play, socialize and rest.
“Another is increasing the transparency of our reporting. To score well on the BBFAW, you can’t do that without highly transparent reporting so we’ve made a lot of improvement in that area over the past year,” said Long.
The BBFAW covers all species and proteins companies source which in Maple Leaf’s case is primarily pork and poultry, she said.
And that includes what the company raises, processes and sources from other suppliers, she said.
The rankings have a couple questions related to antibiotic use with BBFAW “trying to encourage elimination of antibiotic use for growth promotion as well as elimination of antibiotic use for preventative or any purpose that may be unnecessary,” Long said.
Maple Leaf, Long said, has in its pork and poultry divisions “a handful of vets in each area and they’re responsible predominantly for our live operations and then also that of course carries onto the care of animals that go to our plants. Then within the plants, we have dedicated CFI inspectors and a vet in charge in each plant who oversee the regulatory compliance related to animal health and welfare,” said Long.

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