Earls has been getting seared online since dropping Canadian beef in favour of U.S. product with a Certified Humane designation.
Today, the Vancouver-based restaurant chain said “we’re sorry,” and announced plans to “make it right” by sourcing as much Canadian beef as possible… that meets its criteria.
Tom Lynch-Staunton with the Canadian Cattleman’s Association says that’s a good first step, but is missing out on the good work our industry is already doing. But is it enough?
Made in Canada certification?
Lynch-Staunton is cheering the company’s move to take a second look at Canadian producers, but says Earls isn’t bending when it comes to certification.
“To meet the standards that they want they’re still sticking with the Certified Humane label, so farms that are willing to go through that certification process, which will cost them some money, they’ll be able to take advantage of that program.”
He says some farms in Alberta do already have that certification.
But he says Canadian producers have their own code of practice which he calls just as good.
“A standard minimum requirement that we put together with animal welfare experts, academics, government, veterinarians, and public consultation. And we believe it has, for all of the humane animal care handling and welfare practices within the Certified Humane program, we feel we meet those requirements, and in some cases even exceed them.”
He says the Canadian industry is also working on its own program called “verified beef” which would regulate farm food safety protocols, the use of products like growth hormones and antibiotics, and animal health and welfare.
But will the Canadian program be enough to meet Earls’ requirements?
Lynch-Staunton admits there is one area where it doesn’t comply with Certified Humane.
“One exception. The certified humane program has is it doesn’t allow the use of growth hormones in beef production, which isn’t an animal welfare issue, it’s just a simple preference issue.”
He says Alberta beef producers do use growth hormones in the majority of beef cattle, which he says is done for environmental reasons.
“We can use less feed to produce the same amount of beef, so that allows us to reduce our environmental impact on land feed and water.”
He says producers could switch to hormone free if that’s what consumers want.
But he says consumers should first engage in a conversation about the benefits and impacts of the use of growth hormones.