Earl’s Restaurants Not Supporting Canadian Beef

Agri-vated by marketing of beef niches & antibiotic free trends

I can quite honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed dining at an Earl’s restaurant. Maybe you disagree, but I’ve always felt I paid too much for what was served and I’ve always left hungry. Overpaid and underfed! Earl’s beef decision to turn their backs on Canadian cattle farmers means now I don’t have to worry about eating at their restaurant ever again.

Earls has made a decision to change their beef source from Albertan to US certified humaneLast week, Earl’s announced that they would source only certified humane beef, switching their source from Alberta producers to a Virginia-based firm. It might surprise you but I could respect Earl’s decision as a legitimate business decision were it not for the fact that they did not approach the Canadian beef industry about whether they could supply such a product. Earl’s spokesperson Cate Simpson, stated the reason they have turned to sourcing beef from the United States is that, “[t]here was (and is) simply not enough Certified Humane, antibiotic, steroid free beef in Alberta to meet the volume we use and those we tried were unable to consistently meet our supply needs, not even a portion of it”.

Now if you’re seeking beef raised without the use of antibiotics, this is okay, but know that it is NOT healthier or any safer than beef raised with antibiotics. Earl’s provides the impression that Canadian beef producers’ use of antibiotics, results in Canadian beef being unsafe. To me, this is a deliberate attempt by Earl’s to mislead Canadians. In Canada, the use of antibiotics in livestock production is required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as part of animal health. CFIA regulations specify that antibiotics must be withdrawn prior to slaughter.

Antibiotics are used in animal feed at feedlots to ensure that the animals don’t become sick and suffer. It can be hard to detect if an animal is sick and therefore antibiotics are a means to reduce unnecessary sickness and suffering. Due to CFIA protocol and consumer safety, livestock slaughter plants take antibiotic use very seriously and test carcasses for residues. Beef processors are able to trace back directly to each farm where a carcass come from. This means that if a producer sells an animal that has antibiotic residues, it would be identified at the slaughter plant and the producer may be banned from selling livestock to that facility for periods of up to one year.

Canadian organic beef producers are also bound by CFIA regulations to use antibiotics in the production of their livestock. The difference being that when finishing organic beef for slaughter, antibiotic are not used in their feed. This increases the potential for animals to become sick and needlessly suffer until they are finally identified and treated with antibiotics.

The Canadian beef industry delivers safe, healthy products to the market and this is done through the use of antibiotics. If Earl’s wishes to provide beef products that align with their corporation’s views, good for them, but let’s make sure it meets Canadian standards for animals and consumers. Oh and while they’re at it, why not also try to find a segment of the Canadian beef market willing to produce this product.

Unlike Earl’s, I support my friends and family that raise beef under Canadian standards, and I’ll gladly buy their beef, giving them my business. I’m quite happy not giving my money to a corporation that supports animal cruelty, such as Earls.

One Comment

  1. Two points where there are factual inaccuracies with this.

    1) CFIA does not ‘require’ producers to use antibiotics as indicated here. If it was required as a part of animal health, it seems odd that the same CFIA has guidelines on labeling different production processes and you can find them here. One labeling guideline is ‘raised without antibiotics’. If it was required for health, I doubt they would create guidelines for a label. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/method-of-production-claims/eng/1389379565794/1389380926083?chap=9#s3c9

    2) Ionophores, a class of antibiotics used in feed, in general, are not used as a therapeutic treatment to prevent sickness (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/an285). They are used to increase feed efficiency. As stated in the first line of the note from researchers at the University of Florida, “Ionophores are feed additives used in cattle diets to increase feed efficiency and body weight gain.” To your point, however, Hersom and Thrift also indicate that ionophores can reduce the incidence of coccidiosis, but the Merck Veterinary Manual also states that control should include changes in management (http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/digestive_system/coccidiosis/coccidiosis_of_cattle.html).

    The point is, to use broad language to state that all antibiotics are used to ensure that animals “don’t become sick and suffer” is factually inaccurate and also misleading.

    The beef industry — and individual producers — are free to produce their beef in the manner that makes the most financial sense for them, provided they adhere to the Beef Code of Practice and other regulatory guidelines. Earls is also free to choose whichever supplier they feel provides them with the product that more appropriately meets their needs (and the needs of their consumers). If the industry does not like the decision, go out and try and win back the customer. I teach marketing, and waging a boycott campaign is not a method that I generally advise when trying to woo a customer.

    Perhaps the agricultural community is not Earls target market. Maybe it never was. That is ok.

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