Earls Restaurant is defending its decision to purchase Certified Humane beef from the United States.
“If there had been enough beef in Canada, or in Alberta, to be able to supply our restaurants, we absolutely would have chosen them,” corporate communications manager Cate Simpson said Friday.
The Canadian chain was grilled by cattle farmers and customers after announcing the change earlier this week.
#BoycottEarls trended for hours on social media Thursday.
Simpson said their team worked closely with producers in Alberta for three years, but ultimately couldn’t find enough supply to meet their demand.
“We know that Canadian cattle are being raised humanely, that’s not a question in our mind,” Simpson said.
But she added that Certified Humane goes a few steps further – not only are the cows cared for in a respectful manner, they are also raised without antibiotics, steroids and added growth hormones.
Saskatchewan rancher and blogger Adrienne Ivey said there is a lot of misunderstanding about the Canadian beef industry’s practices.
“It’s not common practice for beef cattle to be on constant antibiotics — it’s really used as a sickness treatment program,” she explained
However, according to Simpson with Earls, antibiotics are given to cows across the board as a precautionary measure unless they are labelled “antibiotic-free.”
On Thursday, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Ryder Lee said food marketing is almost “out of control,” and the humane beef brand is an unfair label placed on producers.
But Earls doesn’t agree.
“There’s an enormous amount of consumers, restaurants, retailers and wholesalers who are looking for this level of quality of meat,” Simpson said.