Maple Leaf Foods, Canada, announced plans to invest approximately $28 million to transition its Edmonton, Canada, poultry processing facility to world-class controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) technology, reflecting its commitment to animal care, the poultry sector and value-added branded fresh chicken.

While it implements this technology, Maple Leaf will convert its transportation, lairage and receiving area and handling systems to optimize rest time and create a climate-controlled environment. The new lairage system will enhance lighting, air quality and temperature control, allowing chickens to rest comfortably and reduce stress. The CAS technology is a humane system that will ensure birds are fully insensible prior to processing. The conversion will result in a 26,000-square-foot expansion, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.   

"We are on a journey to become the most sustainable protein company on Earth, and being a leader in animal care is a cornerstone of this vision," says Michael McCain, president and CEO. "We are deploying world-class technologies and best practices that support our goal to eliminate stress and pain and provide humane treatment of animals in our care, while enhancing employee health and safety and food quality. With Canada's leading poultry brands, we are advancing many dimensions of sustainability, from eliminating antibiotics to best practices in animal care and dramatic reductions in our environmental footprint." 

"Controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) provides many advantages to animal welfare, ensuring chickens are fully unconscious and humanely euthanized, while greatly reducing stress," according to Dr. Greg Douglas, vice president, animal care. "This technology, which we have also installed at our pork processing facility in Manitoba, is acknowledged as a best practice around the world."

Maple Leaf Foods is also installing remote video auditing at this facility, which is a training and auditing tool that supports rigorous monitoring and compliance to best practices of animal care.