Sask. ranchers choked over Earls beef move
Beef producers frustrated with Earls, association says
Calling it a marketing ploy, a spokesman for Saskatchewan cattle ranchers says members are unhappy with a move by the restaurant chain Earls to use only certain beef products.
Earls recently announced that only beef meeting a variety of criteria will be used and noted that it could not find enough of such meat from suppliers in Canada, so it was switching to American beef.
"This isn't the first marketing tactic that different outlets have taken," Ryder Lee, of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association, said Thursday.
Lee said members were particularly concerned over a reference to how cattle are raised and slaughtered.
"There's 18,000 [beef producers] in Saskatchewan that are busy taking offense to the idea that their cattle aren't raised humanely and that's my frustration with that brand ... that it uses that word," Lee said.
The move by Earls has provoked considerable reaction, including a call on social media for a boycott of Earls restaurants.
Lee said the beef industry in Canada is developing standards to address the treatment of animals, with help from the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
At competing steak restaurants, such as Jack Keaton's BBQ and Bar in Regina, the quality of Canadian beef has not been an issue.
"We purchase about two to three hundred pounds of brisket a week here and it's all Canadian beef," Brett Huber, owner and chef, said. "It's all federally inspected coming out of Alberta and it's top quality. It's the best I can buy."
Huber added he is confident in Canada's inspection system.
"The products that we're serving here and that we're able to buy in Canada are safe products, they're quality products and there's no need to worry about it," he said.
A spokesperson for Earls said that if the domestic beef industry responds with more certified farms, it will reconsider buying Canadian.
With files from CBC's Adam Hunter