From Slow Food to Slow Meat: Slowing Line Speeds to Improve Worker Health and Animal Welfare in Canadian Abattoirs


  • Sarah Berger Richardson



This article examines the regulation of production line speeds in Canadian meat and poultry processing facilities to better understand their impact on worker safety and animal welfare. The article begins with an overview of the regulatory framework that sets line speed conditions in federally licenced facilities. It notes how recent shifts in food safety governance facilitate increased speeds that endanger workers and animals on the kill floor. First, it highlights tensions between regulatory objectives in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations that focus on food safety targets and humane handling guidelines respectively. It then turns to the occupational health and safety risks associated with working at meat and poultry processing facilities. Particular emphasis is placed on the way that COVID-19 outbreaks in Canadian slaughterhouses drew attention to this grueling work that had previously been ignored. The article concludes by noting that the pandemic has created a unique policy window to slow down production speeds; a policy window that should be seized.