Maple Leaf is one of the country’s biggest processors of turkey, serving up popular products like deli meat, turkey bacon, whole breasts and ground turkey under the brands Maple Leaf Prime, Maple Leaf Natural Selections and Maple Leaf Deli-Fresh.
The company also has a public animal welfare policy to assure concerned consumers about the meat they buy. Their policy states, in part:
"A healthy respect for the well-being, proper handling and humane slaughter of all animals within our care is a social and ethical responsibility that maintains an important balance between respecting the needs of animals and providing consumers with high quality, wholesome and affordable food. This responsibility is shared between Maple Leaf Foods and our suppliers, as we all depend on these animals for our products and our livelihood. Everyone involved in the raising and processing of animals and poultry, from producers and transport workers to all of our employees, are required to adhere to good animal handling practices in accordance with industry guidelines, serving as stewards of the animals entrusted to their care."
They also note that they support that commitment, in part, by:
"Taking appropriate disciplinary action against any producers or third-party suppliers who violate animal welfare practices, which may include the termination of contracts."
The birds raised for Maple Leaf originate at Hybrid Turkeys, the company that provides the genetic stock of 90% of the turkey we eat in Canada.
We asked Maple Leaf to comment on the allegations uncovered in the hidden camera footage. They sent us the following statement:
"Maple Leaf has a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse of any kind. We understand it is an isolated incident and we commend Hybrid Turkey for the swift and severe actions they are taking to address this issue."
After our episode, a spokesman for Maple Leaf foods contacted Marketplace with the following statement:
"We saw the video on Marketplace for the first time. We are very disturbed by the abuse shown – it violates our animal welfare policies and requirements of our suppliers, who receive eggs from Hybrid to grow their turkeys. We have discussed this serious issue with Hybrid, who have confirmed that they are implementing tough new animal welfare requirements of all their employees. We will be conducting ongoing audits to ensure that they adhere to their new animal welfare policies and procedures."