Food & Grocery | National | Sustainability

Animal Health and Welfare

January 14, 2019

The health and welfare of animals-raised-for-food is important to the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and our members – from on-farm to transport to slaughter.  Canadians rely on RCC’s retail members to ensure that the food they purchase is responsibly-sourced and produced in a humane way.  Our members expect that all organizations in their supply chains comply fully with all applicable Canadian laws and regulations related to animal health and welfare.

RCC and its members believe in a science-based approach to animal health and welfare.  We rely on many advisors and experts to help our members improve their programs, policies and initiatives.  RCC is also a partner (voting director) of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).


National Farm Animal Care Council brings together diverse stakeholders to:

  • develop Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals,
  • create a process for the development of animal care assessment programs,
  • provide a forum for open dialogue on farm animal welfare.

RCC and member retailers participate on some Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Value Chain Roundtables as well.

About AAFC Value Chain Roundtables

Value Chain Roundtables bring together federal/provincial/territorial policy-makers with industry leaders from across the value chain, including input suppliers, producers, processors, food-service industries, retailers, traders and associations.  A variety of priority areas have been addressed by the Value Chain Roundtables including:

  • Food safety and quality
  • Tracking and traceability
  • Scientific research, innovation, and commercialization of new products
  • Market access, market development and competitiveness
  • Health and nutrition
  • Environmental impact and sustainability
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Labour access and retention

RCC and its members support the Five Freedoms of animal welfare.

About the Five Freedoms

The Five Freedoms outline five aspects of animal welfare under human control.

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

The Retail Council of Canada has a specialized staff member who leads the animal health and welfare file and works with our members.  We help members’ animal welfare programs mature by working in both an individual and collaborative manner.  Best-practice sharing is a key component of our work.

Recognizing that standards for animal health and welfare improve as science and best-practices evolve, RCC and its members are committed to engaging with all stakeholders (government, scientists, veterinarians, animal welfare NGOs, industry associations, etc) to continually review issues.

Current member commitments

Animal health and welfare advisors and experts

  • Ed Pajor; Professor of Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Production Animal Health, University of Calgary
  • Dr. Ian J.H. Duncan; Professor Emeritus, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare, Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph
  • Dr. Alexandra Harlander, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph
  • Dr. Renée Bergeron, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph
  • Dr. Tina M. Widowski, Director, Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
  • Dr. Shane Renwick, DVM, MSc, National Issues & Animal Welfare Manager, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
  • Geoff Urton, General Manager, Strategy and Innovation, BC SPCA
  • Lynn Kavanagh, Campaign Manager (Canada), World Animal Protection
  • Riana Topan, Campaign Manager, Humane Society International – Canada

For more information, please contact [email protected].

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