Maple Leaf names ‘animal wellness’ chief

(Dave Bedard photo)

Canadian processing giant Maple Leaf Foods has gone to Ontario’s pork sector for the person to spearhead the setup of its “comprehensive animal wellness program.”

The Toronto meat and processing company on Monday named Dr. Stephanie Cottee, a former provincial programs advisor with the Ontario provincial pork board, as its new “leader, animal wellness.”

While at Ontario Pork, Maple Leaf said Monday, she managed the Canadian Quality Assurance and Animal Care Assessment program.

There, she acted as “the primary liaison between key pork industry stakeholders to develop, implement and improve swine production programs and animal welfare practices in Ontario.”

Effective Monday, Cottee is tasked with leading “the establishment of an integrated and comprehensive animal wellness program that crosses the company’s pork and poultry operations and interface with its suppliers and other stakeholders.

Such a program, the company said, “will encompass all areas that affect the health and welfare of animals including nutrition, medication, housing, transportation and processing.”

For her part, Cottee will work “closely with management, operations and animal care experts to realize this mandate.”

Advancing ethical treatment for the company’s hogs and birds “requires staying close to emerging science, processes and technologies that advance both our knowledge and capacity, and that of our industry partners, to raise, transport and process animals in a manner that optimizes good health and protects their welfare,” Lynda Kuhn, Maple Leaf’s senior vice-president for sustainability, said in Monday’s release.

Cottee’s “deep experience across the scientific, academic and applied areas of animal wellness will be vital in implementing a strong program that distinguishes Maple Leaf in this vital area of corporate responsibility,” she said.

Before joining Ontario Pork, Cottee worked for Chicken Farmers of Ontario, in support of “a range of projects including on-farm biosecurity, health and safety, and traceability,” Maple Leaf said Monday.

Cottee has a doctorate in farm animal behaviour and welfare from the University of Guelph and had also served as a sessional professor for Guelph’s animal behaviour and welfare program. — Network


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