Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization, and Canada's Global Action Network have released video and photographic evidence, taken by an undercover investigator, of multiple animal cruelty violations committed at Elevages Perigord, Canada's largest foie gras production facility in Quebec. The evidence has been submitted to Canadian authorities and both groups are urging prosecution.

Andrew Plumbly, director of Global Action Network, said: "This industry has no place in civilized society and we are asking the Canadian government to outlaw the production of foie gras immediately. We are also calling on all consumers and food distributors to make the compassionate decision to stop buying foie gras."

A press release from Farm Sanctuary reads:

The photo and video evidence shows horrifying conditions endured by ducks and geese used in the production of foie gras, many of which violate Canadian animal welfare laws including:

-- Tearing the heads of live ducks off -- Kicking, throwing and punching ducks -- Leaving ducklings to die of hypothermia and asphyxiation inside trash cans -- Bashing live ducks against walls and floors -- Suffocating and crushing live ducklings -- Force-feeding ducks -- Slaughter of fully-conscious ducks

"The evidence provided to the authorities in Canada shows clearly that the production of foie gras leads to egregious callousness and cruelty," said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary. "We have seen it in U.S. foie gras producers, and now we have seen it in Canada. There's no getting around it. Foie gras equals cruelty."

The birds, who are de-beaked, de-toed and forced to live in extreme confinement in filthy, poorly-maintained cages, have liquid feed pressure- pumped down their throats through a metal pipe several times a day. This force feeding is known to cause bruising, lacerations, sores, organ rupture, and even death. It also creates the grossly oversized and diseased "fatty liver" for which foie gras is named. Gasping, vomiting and struggling to move, the birds endure this process every day at the end of their short lives.

Global Action network says an investigator worked at Elevages Perigord on daily basis for more than twelve weeks, and he documented all aspects of this vertically integrated operation, including the hatchery, fattening sheds, force feeding sheds, slaughterhouse and breeding facility.
Using hidden camera equipment, the investigator gathered close to 100 hours of video footage and countless photographs.

Many of these acts were allegedly committed against small or female ducks, considered less desirable for the production of foie gras than their male counterparts, before they underwent the force-feeding process - known as gavaging - that fattens the birds' livers for consumption.

Plumbly maintains while force-feeding is cruel, the footage shows another level of depravity.

"Employees would routinely kick the ducks as they were loading them into trucks or would throw them into the air," he said.

They would also rip the heads off small or sickly ducks, he added.

Although the evidence does not directly implicate higher-ups at Elevages Perigord, a subsidiary of French-owned Excel Development, Plumbly said testimony from the volunteer reveals the company's owners toured the facility regularly and were aware of the mistreatment.

The following is from the Montreal Gazette.

Video shows cruelty behind foie gras

A Montreal-based animal welfare group has released footage and photos taken during a three-month clandestine investigation of alleged animal cruelty at Elevages Perigord, Canada's largest producer of fatty duck liver or foie gras.

While a snippet of footage were released by Global Action Network to the media yesterday, today's three minute video shows alleged employees kicking ducks unable to move due to enlarged livers from the force-feeding process that take place before they are slaughtered, stuffing sickly or small ducks into garbage bags and beating them against a concrete block or metal grate. It also shows garbage bins full of dead ducklings, a duck floundering on a dirty floor while bloods spews out of their neck, ducks in small cages getting force-fed.

Management at Elevages Perigord, which has up until today not seen the video, thus far have no comment about the situation.

A spokesperson for the farm in St. Louis de Gonzague, about 40 kilometres southwest of Montreal, said they are concerned with the matter and will respond shortly.

Some questioned the validity of the video, obtained when a volunteer of Global Action Network infiltrated the farm posing as an employee during a 12-week period between November 2006 and February 2007. Neither the video footage or the photos show conclusive evidence that the images were taken at Elevages Perigord. While the employees committing the alleged acts of animal cruelty can be seen in several of the shots, none are wearing uniforms.

Director of Global Action Network, Andrew Plumbly, said the camera worn by their volunteer was small and therefore was unable to capture wide-angle shots of the farm. However, Plumbly did provide the volunteer's employment records while he was employed at Elevages Perigord. To protect his identity however, the name is blackened out.

The Surete du Quebec in Monteregie is investigating and are still trying to determine whether the images actually came from the farm, said SQ spokesperson Ronald McInnis. The SQ could not comment further on the case.

SPCA director Pierre Barnoti, who was on hand to view the video this morning, said that although he disagrees with the way the network delivered their evidence, he is certain that the group has good intentions.

Plumbly alleges not only that employees' actions were cruel and against Canada's criminal code but they also contravene the federal meat inspection regulations that requires you stun all animals and in the case of poultry decapitate them, before slaughtering them. Video footage showed the ducks moving their heads just prior to being slaughtered.

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