Ask a Simple Question, Get a Convoluted Answer

What is it with government, that a simple question cannot be addressed with a straightforward and truthful response?  Please see the e-mail string below.

How easy it would be to say yes or no to the question asked by a concerned citizen.

The welfare of horses depends on honest answers, not platitudes about humane treatment!

Some of you may have read the follow-up story regarding horses slaughtered at the South Korea abattoir– Jeju police charged the slaughterhouse and three of its workers for killing horses in front of others in a direct violation of the South Korean Animal Protection Act.

“A Korean abattoir and three workers have been charged with animal cruelty at a slaughterhouse where a half-brother of champion mare Winx was killed for meat. 

Police investigated the Jeju Livestock Cooperative after secret footage showed racehorses being wheeled to slaughter on metal carts, some just hours after their final race. 

The horses were beaten on the head with lengths of black polyethylene pipe before being herded inside and stunned with an electric rod designed to kill cows.

At least one horse panicked as it watched its companion being killed before meeting its own grisly end.” 

So we wondered whether Canadian slaughterhouses were required to include a barricade that prevented horses from seeing other horses being killed within visual range.

You can read the exchange below.  Our question was:

I am seeking information regarding the slaughter of horses. What is the procedure once the horses are in the chute leading to the kill box?  Is the next horse in line able to view the previous horse being shot?


From: Meat Hygiene Prog / Prog Hygiène des viandes (CFIA/ACIA)

Sent: Monday, September 16, 2019 3:28 PM

To: [Name Redacted]

Cc: Meat Hygiene Prog / Prog Hygiène des viandes (CFIA/ACIA) ; Enquiries / Demande de renseignements (CFIA/ACIA)

Subject: TR: WEB RESPONSE / RÉPONSE DU WEB ID# 2019/9-441: Slaughter

Thanks for your enquiry about horse slaughter.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is strongly committed to verifying that animals slaughtered for human consumption are treatedhumanely during slaughter.

Depending on the type of animal slaughtered, there are specific requirements for the design of the establishment, the type of equipmentused, the training provided to staff, the type of flooring (for instance, non-slip flooring) and many other species-specific accommodations. The CFIA continually accesses and shares research results with members of the global community to determine the best practices for humane slaughter.  Based on this research, Canadian slaughter requirements constantly evolve. Best practices take into account the latest research on the physical and emotional differences between species to minimize the pain and stress experienced by animals.

Meat Hygiene Program


Having not received a succinct answer,  we persevered with a follow-up email:

From: [Name Redacted]
Sent: 2019-09-16 2:38 PM
To: Meat Hygiene Prog / Prog Hygiène des viandes (CFIA/ACIA)
Subject: Re: TR: WEB RESPONSE / RÉPONSE DU WEB ID# 2019/9-441: Slaughter


Thank you very much for your quick response.  However it does not answer my question with regard to horses specifically.

In federally licensed slaughter establishments, are horses waiting in the chute able to see the horse ahead be shot or is there some kind of barrier obstructing their view?  What is the process?

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your response.


From: Meat Hygiene Prog / Prog Hygiène des viandes (CFIA/ACIA)

Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2019 3:14 PM

Cc: Meat Hygiene Prog / Prog Hygiène des viandes (CFIA/ACIA)

Subject: RE: TR: WEB RESPONSE / RÉPONSE DU WEB ID# 2019/9-441: Slaughter

Hello [Name Redacted],

CFIA is a government agency, and thus is not able to provide specific details of private industry business practices. Although Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) do not specifically address line of sight for horses in slaughter establishments, it is required that slaughter establishments are designed, constructed and maintained in such a manner that they will not cause avoidable suffering, injury or death to animals slaughtered for human consumption.

CFIA provides guidance to industry, based on internationally accepted best practices, for humane treatment during the slaughter process:

Food-specific requirements and guidance – Meat products and food animals

Furthermore, in accordance with regulations pertaining to Preventive Control Plans, licence holders must identify animal welfare risks, and implement preventive control plans to address animal welfare risks specific to the species being handled and specific to their slaughter establishment.

Regulatory requirements: Preventive control plan (PCP)

I hope you find this information helpful.




Meat Hygiene Program



Programme de l’hygiène des Viandes




  1. Sue Sargent · ·

    My next questions would be – are the varying procedures at each facility a recommendation or a requirement? Who does on site audits to ensure compliance (I believe it’s CFIA agents), how often, and how enforceable are these variations at each facility, whether a recommendation versus a requirement?


  3. Debra Little · ·

    I am appalled at the horrific treatment horses sent for slaughter received in transport and at the slaughter plant !! This is unacceptable !! Where are the inspectors ?? 😡😡😡

%d bloggers like this: