Earls responds to backlash over certified humane move
May 5, 2016
by Erica Shaffer
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VANCOUVER, BC – Social media backlash prompted the owner of Earls Kitchen + Bar to cancel plans to source beef produced in the United States under the Certified Humane marketing program.
A post on the company’s Facebook page said “Earls fans, we’re listening to you. We made a mistake, and we’re sorry. It was wrong to move away from Canadian Beef, and we want to make it right. Earls will get Canadian Beef back on the menu. We are going back to Aspen Ridge and will work hard to source as much #CanadianBeef that meets our criteria as possible.”
On April 26, Earls announced the company had reached its goal of sourcing 100 percent certified beef with no antibiotics, steroids or added hormones. The company said the beef served at its restaurants comes from certified humane ranches and certified humane slaughterhouses designed by Dr. Temple Grandin, animal welfare expert and long-time MEAT+POULTRY contributor.
But Canadians took to social media to protest the chain’s decision and call a boycott of its restaurants.
“I, for one, will never grace your restaurants again until you reverse this decision, despite one of my family members being a partner in your organization,” stated one post. “I’ve eaten beef from other countries/provinces, and none compare to the quality and taste of Alberta beef. Good luck keeping your restaurants viable in this province.”
In response, Earls explained the rationale behind its conscious sourcing initiative and committed to sourcing beef produced in Alberta.
“We set out to find a source of beef to provide us with the quantity of cattle we need; we found one in Alberta, but the supply was limited, so we found a supplier in the US who could supply what we needed,” the company said in a statement. “Since then, you’ve told us that sourcing locally is very important. We have had ranchers reach out to us to help supply us with product from Alberta.”
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association applauded the move.
“The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) believes the apology issued today by Earls is a good first step,” the organization said in a statement on the CCA website. “We appreciate their effort to reach out to industry and now encourage Earls to participate in the sustainability discussion through the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.”
“Regulations and standards differ from certifications, which are simply a record of the production practices the majority of Canadian cattle producers are already doing,” CCA concluded.
Earls is based in Vancouver and operates 66 restaurants in Canada in addition to seven US locations.
“We have deep roots in Alberta,” Mo Jessa, president of Earls, said in a statement. “We started in Edmonton and we have many operations and employees here. Alberta has supported us. We need to support Alberta, especially in tough times. We moved to a US supplier as we thought they could supply all of our needs. It was a mistake not to include Canadian beef.”