Pity the local residents who have to put up with the stink and noise of the goings-on at Quality Meats. The city is giving them almost no help, so they've turned to documenting their own plight. The mess captured here is, sadly, just a glimpse of what goes on behind these walls.
Where: Quality Meat Packers Ltd., 2 Tecumseth
What: Rotting pig carcasses lying in the mid-afternoon sun
Why: That's what long-suffering neighbours want to know
Complaints registered by residents: noise from incessant truck traffic and the unloading of animals, dreadful smells, pigs squealing
Number of animals processed daily at the plant: more than 5,000 Number of animals that can be held in plant's barn: up to 3,000 Number of employees: 638
Times of the day plant receives animals for slaughter: summer, 5 am to 11 pm; winter, 7 am to 11 pm
WHAT QUALITY MEATS SAYS ABOUT LATEST PIG FIASCO
"That sounds like an awful lot of animals. We don't normally have that number of animals that don't make the trip (to the assembly line). I'm not sure if there was a problem with that load. From time to time there are some animals that need to be removed from the transport truck and they gotta go for disposal. We're talking very small numbers. We as an industry work with transporters to minimize the stress on the animals, but situations can occur as a result of an accident on the highway or something like that. Obviously, there was a problem that specific day. "
Don Collis, vice-president and general manager
WHAT CITY OFFICIALS ARE DOING
Offering assurances that residents' concerns are being taken seriously while approving condo development in the area.
BELLY OF THE BEAST
Number of provincially licensed slaughterhouses in Ontario: 219
Number of federally licensed slaughterhouses in Ontario: 26
Total number of slaughterhouses in Toronto: 6
Total number of animals raised and killed for human food in Canada annually: more than 640 million (not including fish and sea creatures)
Number of animals processed at the largest slaughterhouses: about 400 an hour
First time licensing of slaughterhouses was linked to compliance with provincial regulations: 1998
Times provincially licensed slaughterhouses have been cited for non-compliance since 98: 46
Number of provincially licensed slaughterhouses that have had their licence suspended or revoked since 1998 for non-compliance: 16
Method typically used to kill pigs: rendered unconscious by a blow to the head, gas mixture or electric current; neck slit and bled to death. Chickens are knocked unconscious and lowered into scalding tanks. Cattle are dehorned, often before they're unconscious, and castrated.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Animals ritually slaughtered in accordance with Judaic or Islamic law do not have to be rendered unconscious beforehand.
Percentage of all slaughtered animals' bodily parts that end in rendering plants: about 40
What the 2001 provincial auditor's report found
"Critical" deficiencies, including unsanitary conditions and carcasses transported in unrefrigerated vehicles to slaughterhouses;
Almost one-third of the "critical" deficiencies recorded during 2000 annual audits reoccurred during 2001 audits;
There was no follow-up inspection of problem plants;
The ministry of agriculture does not have systems in place to randomly test suspect meat for microbiological, chemical or other contaminants;
The ministry has no criteria for determining when to suspend licences or impose penalties;
The ministry has no procedures in place to ensure that problem laboratory test results are followed up.
What Animal Alliance says
"Canadian laws, despite paying lip service to societal expectation that we treat animals 'humanely,' actually regard animals as nothing more than production machines."