Fact Check – It’s in a Brand: Alberta Beef & Certified Humane®

A follow-up to my previous post:  Canada’s innovation left for greener pastures decades ago – and earls’ restaurant must die for it, today

As the #Boycottearls movement moves forward – I’ve been watching the misinformation unfold. As nearly everyone has witnessed, social media results in issues like this taking on their own life – one that may be filled with inaccurate information.

As a modern issues manager who has worked within social media communications for over a decade (yes, longer than Facebook) I have seen this pattern repeatedly   – and  with unfortunate results for those on the receiving ends of misinformed  memes and posts by ranters, trolls and others who jump on  the driver-less bandwagon.

Below, I’ll demonstrate how misinformed some of the trending postings on the topic are.



It's a brand too
It’s a brand too

Statement: Alberta Beef is it, I’m choosing to eat Canadian beef only

FALSE:  Alberta Beef…is a brand, just like Certified Humane®. Further, it’s not always Canadian. (that was all news to me)

From the Alberta Beef web site: “We know that some of the cattle are born and raised in other provinces before coming to Alberta for feeding and processing. Some cattle are born, raised and fed in other provinces before coming to Alberta for processing. A small number of cattle may come here from northern states in the U.S. These cattle may not be completely Alberta cattle, but the beef is still Alberta Beef.”

PS. Alberta raised beef (bought at a local butcher) is the most amazing beef I’ve ever consumed. There really is no comparison. Bought elsewhere, it’s most likely the branded Alberta Beef and isn’t quite as good yet is better than what I’ve found anywhere so far.

Update 27 May 2016:  Alberta Beef Producers says Earls ‘mistake’ cooks up new opportunities


Statement: Creekstone Farms – the producer chosen by earls for Certified Humane beef is Halal certified

FALSE – I could find no information on their site about this, and subsequent searches turned up articles from within the Muslim community that Creekstone Farms was not a Halal producer (2014 online discussion).

30 April – CORRECTION –  TRUE – Thanks to earls, who posted this document, Creekstone is Halal certified. I will note that this is controversial within the Muslim community as there is debate (2014 online discussion) over the  stunning  prior to throat slitting.


I’m not even sure why this matters – in order to eat a cow, it needs to die. There are many ways to do this. I couldn’t find any Canadian-specific videos on slaughter, however, here is a video demonstrating different types of slaughter. You’ll note the throat is slit or cut in various slaughter methods. (Yes, if you want beef on your plate, the cow must die for that to happen.)

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_aL94_10YE[/embedyt]

earls facebook post terrorismTo the idiot that suggested supporting Halal turns into   rainbows/unicorns/dragons and ends with earls   supporting terrorism: That’s  the only way I’d seen a cow killed until the video above, and I’m not a terrorist and never plan on being one.  Oh, and I think I’ve met many  steers that were smarter than you. Update 30 April: Chandler resigned from a Board  due to this post.


Statement: Certified Humane is available in Alberta

TRUE – earls has stated this on their Twitter feed  in the past few days. However, they also note there is not a supplier who can meet the needs of all of their restaurants  (soon to be 65 locations). They’ve also stated they are not boycotting Canadian beef, and that if supply changes, they will revisit in the future.


Statement: I’ll be taking my business elsewhere

TRUE: You will. Sadly, you’ll be eating non-Canadian beef, poultry, fish, vegetables, and other non-Canadian products there.  Just keep that in mind. I know this as I worked many years in restaurants  years ago – and our suppliers were sometimes all non-Canadian, or partly non-Canadian.

There are also many products we as Canadians excel at producing: lobster, wheat, apples, blueberries, and beef to name a few. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be eating Canadian produced items every time you put it in your mouth – that’s very difficult to do in some regions.

Despite our need for food, it is still a product which is marketed and sold globally. In fact, some producers in Canada would prefer to sell 100% to export markets as they get a better price (ya, we suck at supporting our Canadian producers.)

I would challenge you to order a meal at restaurants only if everything is born, raised and /or produced fully in Canada. You may get hungry quickly. You’ll also realize that we Canadians excel at certain products, and don’t make others. And that’s okay. Remember, we want to export more than we import – which we don’t currently.

In some communities, we would run out of food in  3-5 days as we import most of our food. “The reality is that we have about three to five days’ worth of fruits and vegetables on our grocery store shelves in Grande Prairie,” says Foundation CEO Tracey Vavrek, in the release of the 2013 Vital Signs report for Grande Prairie.  Mrs. Vavrek continued to say  “In the event that, say, our borders were closed, the region is closed off due to a disaster, or there is a global crisis, this study has shown that with planning and some added infrastructure, we do have the ability to grow the foods to feed residents around our region a well-rounded, healthy diet.”


Statement: earls doesn’t support Canada, so I won’t support earls

FALSE: From earls site where they explain their decision (this site was prepared for the announcement, not in response to the backlash):

Is all your meat and poultry from the US?  No, we source cage-free eggs from all over Canada and the U.S., use Canadian-produced pork in all of our restaurants and use local free-run chicken, Certified Humane where possible, in all our locations.


Final remarks:

The earls issue is a good one to bring about discussion. It’s not one that deserves you joining the #BoycottEarls movement, especially if you’ve believed any of the information you’ve seen that is false, or   if you believe  the restaurant down the street is serving all-Canadian products.

It is one that makes us all rethink our food sources   in a country that survives due to exports. We must realize in order for us to be competitive in an export market , we need to be market leaders through innovation and change, or we’ll lose out to an importer who beat us to the race just as Creekstone Farms did in this case.

One headline read “Earls decision a ‘slap in the face’ for Alberta ranchers, but some experts say Canadian beef industry dropped the ball

And that says it all.

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