Well, hurrah! The Internet has returned to our household after a 12-day absence and I’m glad to be back online. Considering that ninety percent of the Canadian population has and/or uses the Internet, you’d think we’d have the whole “Internet Service Provider” part down too but, no. We suck at building infrastructure and this recent experience with Bell and Primus Canada made me long for the days of ink wells and parchment paper. Nevertheless, it’s fixed now and I can finally stop going outside or heading to bed early just for something to do and return to watching cat videos into the wee hours while eating chips from a bag as nature intended.
But truly, it’s good to be back.
On Wednesday April 8, Animal Justice, an advocacy group here in Canada, filed a legal complaint against Maple Lodge Farms, “citing violations of consumer protection laws” after an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals revealed the business-as-usual terror and cruelty that goes on in their chicken slaughterhouses and “processing” plants. The footage was horrible: chickens with their wings and legs crushed, chickens boiled alive, the birds thrown around in crates as if they were inanimate objects and many freezing to death in transport. One worker referred to them as “popsicles” and you can even see the undercover investigator tapping the flesh of one of the birds that has just come off the truck, dead and frozen solid.
Not quite the picture Maple Lodge paints in their ads or on their website.
This is where Animal Justice is taking them to task. Put simply, Maple Lodge Farms is flat-out lying to the public when they state that they “strictly adhere” to industry Codes of Practice and Care for poultry when they clearly don’t. They also claim their chickens are humanely handled and treated which they plainly aren’t (Maple Lodge is still on probation after being found guilty in 2013 of animal cruelty when 1,892 birds froze to death during transport). In addition to the stream of bullshit someone gets paid to spew out on their website, they also represent themselves as a “family farm” when they don’t even operate a single one (as with most factory farming today, Maple Lodge runs the show when it comes to supply, such as the birds and the feed, but the actual farm is a factory farm likely operated by a middle-class worker who is entirely at the mercy of the corporation’s supply chain and is probably in crippling debt to a bank for the farm’s purchase and operation).
If Maple Lodge’s criminal record and online hyperbole weren’t enough, there’s the photos on their website: colourful and vibrant pictures of full-feathered chickens, shown outside on green grass in the bright sunshine, clearly happy and enjoying life. Aside from the actual cruelty, nothing makes me seethe more than a company completely misrepresenting the actual lives of animals on factory farms. It’s why so many people are still asleep when it comes to the reality of their food and why I was asleep for so long: because of images like that that lulled me into a false sense of security and privilege so I could justify taking the life of an animal for food. It’s such abhorrent bullshit.
This is why organizations like Animal Justice are desperately needed: any social justice movement needs to utilize the existing laws as much as possible and animal rights is no exception. Based on the recent undercover footage mentioned above and the company’s misrepresentation of their ownership and practices, Animal Justice Canada filed their complaint citing “false and misleading advertising and labelling” using three legal platforms (quoted verbatim from their official 14-page filing):
- The Food and Drug Act, which is administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as it relates to food;
- The Consumer Packaging and Label Act, which is administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as it relates to food; and
- The Competition Act which is administered by the Competition Bureau.
Animal Justice rightfully argues that, “Through written claims and visual depictions, Maple Lodge positions itself as a family company deeply committed to the respectful, humane treatment of chickens. These claims deceive consumers, who increasingly make purchasing decisions guided by ethical considerations.”
Animal Justice also points out in their official press release:
“Maple Lodge’s false and misleading advertising practices dupe consumers into purchasing what they believe to be humanely produced products, when the evidence clearly establishes that these chickens have suffered egregiously. Moreover, Maple Lodge’s false and misleading claims prevent the functioning of a competitive marketplace, by unfairly allowing Maple Lodge to undercut vegetarian meat alternatives, which many consumers select out of ethical concerns for animals.”
Boo-yah, motherfuckers. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
I’ll be following this one for sure. If you’d like to sign the petition on behalf of Animal Justice to help them out, please do so. Above all, the best choice you can make is to go vegan. Maple Lodge Farms slaughters half a million chickens a day. Your food choices matter. You can make a difference.