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Importance of Processed Meat Industry in Canada


Discuss about the Contribution of Livestock Production to Climate.

The food processing industry holds third position in the list of manufacturing industries in Canada. In terms of value added and shipment, the most important industry is the industry or processed meat. Processed meat constitutes one third of total exported food.  The industry provides larger employment to people engaged in food processing industry.  The red meat processing industry in Canada employs more than 46,000 people. In every region of Canada meat processing is an important activity especially in Quebec and Prairie Province. The supply management system in Canada helps to distribute meats across all provinces and at an approximated proportion of total demand in consumer market.

The processed meat industry though has taken an important place in the economy but it has adverse impact on other sphere of economics. The intensive livestock business affects the cattle species and results in reduction in number and hence an ecological imbalances. Diets containing high shares of meat lead to several diseases and raises possibility of cancer. Excessive gazing and harmful gas emitted during meat processing detrimental effect on environment (De Smet and Vossen). The paper presents a narrative essay on processed meat industry in Canada and its impact on species, people and the health, environment and national and regional economy.

Meat industry is the largest based on animal agriculture. With expansion of non-vegetarian diet, the farming occupies majority of landmass. As a result, species rich in habitats are now destroying. The large-scale agriculture of animals results in extinction or destruction of species and creates dead zones in ocean. Most of the farm animals are first domesticated and then killed for supplying meat. This practice gradually reduces the number of animals and creates threats of species extinction. The ocean dean zones are areas under the ocean with a very low proportion of oxygen.  The dead zones are created from the extensive pollution caused by human activity. Pollutants released in water from bathing and excretion waste from farm animals. Increasing proportion of pollutants in water reduces the amount of oxygen in water creating dead Zones. Agribusiness of animals has already occupied 40 percent landmass of earth and 75 percent deforestation globally (Porter et al.). The animal agribusiness hampers the balance of marine life as well. The water pollution resulted from intensive farming is a reason for death of many ocean animals and disturbs the ecological balance.

Adverse Impact on Species, People, and Health

The meat-based diet is a source of high protein. People are shifting their food habit from vegetarian to a non- vegetarian one. Meats are not only intake for full course meal but also are used for different tasty snacks. However, too much dependency on meat diet brings health hazards (Boada, Henríquez-Hernández and Luzardo). As people’s dietary habit shift towards a meat based diet the possibilities of diseases like high cholesterol, pressure and other diseases increases. These the root of many diseases and even cause life risk.

World Health Organization reports that eating meat daily increases the risk of cancer. Frequent intake of hot dogs, corned beef, sausages and beef jerky increases the colorectal cancer probability. The processed meat is also linked with heart diseases. Processed meats refer to meat that are preserved by curing, smoking, drying, salting or canning.  To preserve meat harmful chemicals are usedthat have negative impact on health (Clonanet al.). For preserving meat one of the chemicals used is N-nitroso. This element contains substances that can cause cancer. This substance is formed from Sodium nitrite used for persevering pink or red color of meat, to give the processed meat additional flavor and prevent bacteria growth. These risks are not usually present with fresh meat. However, excessive consumption of both is harmful for health. Processed meat is associated with several chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, Bowel and stomach cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease or heart problems.

In a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization indicates Livestock is a great threat to environment. The production of Livestock causes climate change   by greenhouse gas emission even greater than motor vehicles (Giaouriset al.). The production of meat is one of the main contributors of harmful green house gas. In addition to carbon dioxide emission extensive farming is also responsible for emitting nitrous oxide and methane. The primary source of methane is stored manure and fermentation of ruminants. Carbon dioxide gas is released from energy uses and burning of fossils fuels in firms. Globally it accounts 18% of greenhouse gas emission induced from human activity. It is also responsible for causing degradation of land and water. The farm animals are grazed in fields and intensive grazing leads to removal of upper layer of soil causing soil erosion and land degradation. The environment degradation is not only resulted from emission of gases like methane and manure but also hamper ecological balance. In order to increase arable lands for feeding crops deforestation is increasing at a rapid pace. The adverse impact on environment is realized in terms of destruction of rain forest, pollution, loss of water, soil erosion and acid rain.

Greenhouse Gas Emission and Environmental Issues

A worldwide explosion of farm animals is realized to meet the growing demand for diet based on farm animal.  From 1950 to 1994, globally meat production has accounted fourfold increase. The rate is higher than growth of human population during this period (Johnston, Jessica and Bruce ). The overpopulation of farm animals creates pressure on earth’s resources. Both the farm animals and human depends on nature for their basic need.

In Canada, the growth rate of farm animals and that of people are four to one. Studies find on any given day, there are nearly 14.6 million cattle dairy and beef, 96 million chickens, 13 million pigs and 8 million turkeys alive. In contrast to this statistics, the number of people alive is 30 million. The domesticated animals absorb resources to satisfy their basic need through grazing land and feed crops (Bustillo-Lecompteand Mehrab ).

Processed meat is the largest food industry in Canada. In 1994,  the meat’s shipment worth of 9.5 billion dollar. In manufacturing industry, it stands third next after motor vehicle and oil industries (Arcand et al.).

The emission of greenhouse gas from farming is highly responsible for global climate change (Currie et al.). The increasing proportion of green house gas increases global temperature contributing to global warming. A shift towards plant-based diet is recommended to counter adverse impact of climate change.

In order to grow crops to feed animals, considerable amount of water is required. Water is also required for cleaning farm factory and for water to animals to drink. The production of 1-poundbeef requires 2400 gallons water (Narvaez?Bravo et al.). By relying on vegetarian diet, it is possible to save 219,000 gallons water every year. The water gets polluted from waste discharged by animals. When chemicals used in the processed meat mixes with water, then water get contaminated.

Farm animals raise more excretion than human. According to Environmental Protection Agency in Canada showed the factory farms in Canada every year entails 500 million tons manures. With no arrangement for sewage to processed plants, the manures are stored in small water land near the factory farms called lagoons or sprayed over the fields (Huang et al). The runoff water from fields mixes with lakes and rivers and causes water pollution. The virus and bacteria carries off to ground water and make it contaminated.

Using more land for grazing or feeding animals creates environmental problem associated with modern agriculture (Sheppard andBittman). In central Canada much prairies land have been already lost. In the Sothern Prairies of Canada 115,000 cattle are roamed about. Cows, buffalo and Elk are most common animals used in the meat industry. The animal husbandry and processed meat industry uses a major share of prairies land causing damages to the land.

Demand for Meat and Economic Impact

The steady supply of meat in the meat processed industry demands a major share of energy that is used in agriculture. Studies reveal that production of meat need 10 to 20 times more energy than that required for grain production (Herforthand Ahmed). The animal products demand more energy for being processed, packed and refrigeratethan vegetarian food.

The meat-processed industry has significant contribution in the economy. The sector provides direct employment to many people in the economy. In the processed food industry, the single sector accounts for major employment. However, the economic impact of the industry is not limited to employment only but it extends far beyond (Moubarac et al). The industry has considerable contribution in providing jobs for both urban and rural Canada. The vast meat industry is an important though indirect channel for marketing Canadian farm products. In Canada, there are opportunities for direct sales for food grain, oilseed producers and for livestock farmers. The meat industry provides indirect job opportunities for in the related industries such as those offer equipment, related product and services to the processor of meat. Another related business for processed food industry is the availability of transport. Based on this industry indirect jobs are created in rail, truck and air transportation.

However, total meat purchase in Canada varies slightly in different years based on the supply variation, price and demand least change in the trend is observed for the past three decades (Dyer et al). During the last three decades per capita consumption of nutritious and wholesome meat product remain almost unchanged.  In 1982, the average consumption of meat in Canada was 75.39 kilogram, which in 2011 is recorded as 75.38 kilograms.

In the form of narrative essay the methodology adapted is to phrase relevant journal articles and research papers. The purpose of the paper is to present a narrative essay on effect of processed meat production. Meat production is one of the important industries for the economy. In addition to its economic valuation, the industry has prolonged impact on cattle species, health of people and even causes permanent damage to environment. The effect of meat industry is not limited to a specific country. The global scenario is first evaluated and then it is linked with Canada.Economic journals, research papers and official journals are used for narrating economic and environmental impact of the specific industry.

The meat processing industry takes an important place in Canadian economy. In the industry there are large number of small producers of sausages and smoked meats. This makes available many operating posts in the industry. Currently the industry employs 28% of all the people engaged in food processing (Preston). For any economy the status of employment is an important indicator of overall economic condition. By providing huge employment the sector appears as a crucial sector for Canadian economy.


Chicken, beef and other red meat industry needs steady supply of these animals. Killing of these animals leads to a decline in the number of available species. The industrial production is not limited to meet domestic demand. A large export market is available for the industrial output. The rapid expansion of the industry creates increasing demand for farm animals. The rate of decline in their number outpaces the birth of newly born animals (Sarkwaet al.). The animals are given high protein food items for better supply of meat. This often creates various diseases among them and affects their reproductive capacity. The natural system of food chain is hampered and so is the ecological balance. In addition to already existing factors behind species extinction and endangered species in Canada the processed meat industry attributes to further declining habitats and endangering animals’ life.

People food habit is now more oriented towards a non vegetarian diet. They prefer to have dishes prepared with meat in their meals as well as for snacks. To meet the demand processed meat is now available in most of the market and groceries. Demand is also coming from restaurant to prepare different dishes using this. However, large intake of meat items has adverse impact on health. High protein is generally source of heart diseases. It also causes high blood pressure and other chronic diseases (Frisk). This type of diet is a possible source not only for chronic diseases but also disease that put life risk like cancer. In the processed meats different harmful chemicals are used that are sources of various health hazards.

The effect of meat industry on natural resource and environment is not limited to its impact on species extinction or declining number of farm animals. The activity has severe impact on other environmental aspects. Global climate change is a matter of severe concern for environmentalists. The greenhouse gas emitted from different industrial activity, smoke from motor vehicles and others are responsible for causing global warming (Legesseet al.). However, the animal agriculture accounts for rapid emission of such harmful gases and rapidly deteriorate climate. The grazing of farm animals put pressure on land. The intensive use of land grazing makes it unproductive and hence leaves fewer lands available for agricultural production. The animal business also requires lots of water for drinking of animals, cleaning farms and growing grains for feeding them. Water pollution which is a byproduct of animal farming leads to misbalance of marine life as well. 

Considering the detrimental effect of meat industry on environment and on health of common people food habit of people has to be changed. The health and environment ministry in Canada recommends for shifting to a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and less of meat (Soladoye et al). This will help to achieve the twin objective of improving health condition and environment protection. The department reported that the present system of food is very much energy intensive. The beef production creates environmental pressure through generating methane gas that affects the climate. When people consume less meat then they intake less energy and therefore reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers.


The paper is a form of narrative essay tracing the effect of processed meat industry. The industry of processed meat spread worldwide and affects the global environment. In Canada it is the third largest manufacturing industry generating huge employment in the economy. The fast expansion of meat industry leads to species extinction or declining species by reducing the number of farm animals. The intensive farming of animals results in environment degradation by putting excessive pressure on different natural resources. During meat production harmful methane gas is produced. This is one of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Additionally, this leads to air, water and land pollution and affect bio diversity. Not only land animals are affected but also the aquatic animals are affected. Diet including more meat creates trouble for health and considered as the source of various diseases. In order to address this issue people in Canada are advised to include more vegetables and fruits to save the environment and avoid health troubles.


Arcand, JoAnne, et al. "Examination of food industry progress in reducing the sodium content of packaged foods in Canada: 2010 to 2013." Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism41.6 (2016): 684-690.

Boada, Luis D., L. A. Henríquez-Hernández, and O. P. Luzardo. "The impact of red and processed meat consumption on cancer and other health outcomes: epidemiological evidences." Food and Chemical Toxicology 92 (2016): 236-244.

Bustillo-Lecompte, Ciro Fernando, and MehrabMehrvar. "Slaughterhouse wastewater characteristics, treatment, and management in the meat processing industry: A review on trends and advances." Journal of environmental management 161 (2015): 287-302.

Clonan, Angie, et al. "Red and processed meat consumption and purchasing behaviours and attitudes: impacts for human health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability." Public health nutrition 18.13 (2015): 2446-2456.

Currie, Andrea, et al. "Multi-province listeriosis outbreak linked to contaminated deli meat consumed primarily in institutional settings, Canada, 2008." Foodborne pathogens and disease12.8 (2015): 645-652.

De Smet, Stefaan, and ElsVossen. "Meat: the balance between nutrition and health. A review." Meat science 120 (2016): 145-156.

Dyer, J. A., et al. "Assessment of the carbon and non-carbon footprint interactions of livestock production in Eastern and Western Canada." Agroecology and sustainable food systems38.5 (2014): 541-572.

Frisk, Adam. "WHO: Processed Meat Can Increase Risk Of Cancer; Red Meat Risky Too." Global News. N. p., 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2017.

Giaouris, Efstathios, et al. "Attachment and biofilm formation by foodborne bacteria in meat processing environments: causes, implications, role of bacterial interactions and control by alternative novel methods." Meat Science 97.3 (2014): 298-309.

Harris, Tracey. "“The Problem Is Not the People, It’s the System”: The Canadian Animal-Industrial Complex." Animal Oppression and Capitalism [2 volumes] (2017): 56.

Herforth, Anna, and Selena Ahmed. "The food environment, its effects on dietary consumption, and potential for measurement within agriculture-nutrition interventions." Food Security 7.3 (2015): 505-520.

Huang, Hongsheng, et al. "Campylobacter species in animal, food, and environmental sources, and relevant testing programs in Canada." Canadian journal of microbiology 61.10 (2015): 701-721.

Johnston, Jessica L., Jessica C. Fanzo, and Bruce Cogill. "Understanding sustainable diets: a descriptive analysis of the determinants and processes that influence diets and their impact on health, food security, and environmental sustainability." Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 5.4 (2014): 418-429.

Legesse, G., et al. "Greenhouse gas emissions of Canadian beef production in 1981 as compared with 2011." Animal Production Science 56.3 (2016): 153-168.

Moubarac, Jean-Claude, et al. "Consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health. Evidence from Canada." Public Health Nutrition 16.12 (2013): 2240-2248.

Narvaez?Bravo, C., et al. "Prevalence of methicillin?resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Canadian commercial pork processing plants." Journal of applied microbiology 120.3 (2016): 770-780.

Porter, John Roy, et al. Chapter 7: Food security and food production systems. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Preston, Thomas Reginald, and Malcolm Beverley Willis. Intensive beef production. Elsevier, 2013.

Sarkwa, F. O., et al. "The contribution of livestock production to climate change: a review." Livestock Research for Rural Development 28.3 (2016).

Sheppard, S. C., and S. Bittman. "Linkage of food consumption and export to ammonia emissions in Canada and the overriding implications for mitigation." Atmospheric Environment 103 (2015): 43-52.

Soladoye, O. P., et al. "Protein oxidation in processed meat: mechanisms and potential implications on human health." Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety14.2 (2015): 106-122.

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