Summary: multi-level inspection process at federally inspected meat plants

Federally inspected meat processing facilities in Canada have a multi-level inspection process to detect cattle and beef that are at risk of carrying disease or containing unacceptable residues.

Ante-mortem inspection: As legislated in the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990, all cattle are inspected by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff before they are slaughtered. Among other things, this inspection ensures that all cattle carry the mandatory individual animal identification ear tag to assist in disease trace-back, identifies animals that require special handling for animal welfare reasons, identifies any animal welfare infractions and those animals that appear to be unhealthy. Animals that raise concerns are called “suspect”. Continue reading

Bug Spray for Beef?

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

The last two research columns have been about technologies and best practices that large and small beef packers can adopt to avoid bacterial contamination during dressing of beef carcasses, and to avoid bacterial (re)contamination of beef cuts and trim during further processing. Ground beef is more of a food safety risk than other cuts, for reasons discussed in last month’s column. As a result, Dr. Colin Gill, Xianqin Yang, Madhu Badoni and Mohamed Youssef of AAFC’s Lacombe Research Station have studied whether lactic acid sprays can combat E. coli in beef trim. Continue reading

A more efficient screening test for trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis (or trich, pronounced “trick”) and other venereal diseases can result in large numbers of open cows at the end of the breeding season, and cause enormous economic losses in the cow-calf sector. Good diagnostic tests are available for trich, but these tests require that bulls be tested three times, one week apart, with no breeding activity in between.

A recently-completed research project funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster studied whether samples from multiple bulls could be pooled together and tested as a group using PCR trich tests. If effective, pooling strategies would make testing for trich more affordable and feasible during routine breeding soundness examinations. Continue reading

5 ways to prepare to meet future sustainable beef requirements

This is a guest post written by Fawn Jackson, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Manager of Environmental Affairs.

The market appears to be sending a strong signal that consumers want sustainable products, and furthermore, they want proof. Last week McDonalds announced a commitment to source verified sustainable beef by 2016. A&W currently claims their beef has been raised by producers at the leading edge of sustainable production practices and Walmart continually promises to deliver more sustainable agricultural products.

Beef producers in Canada and abroad are left wondering: Continue reading

The impact of food safety recalls on Canadian beef demand

A number of food safety events and recalls have raised consumer awareness about the risks associated with food borne pathogens.  While consumer confidence in the food safety system as a whole has not waned in the long run, food safety events can have important short and medium-term impacts.

A recent study led by Dr. John Cranfield at the University of Guelph examined whether food safety related recalls of beef and non-meat food products arising from possible E. coli contamination in Canada, and similar recalls in the U.S., affect beef demand in Canada. Continue reading

Does Canadian beef demand respond to quality improvements?

Beef demand is an indication of consumers’ willingness to purchase, and refers to how much beef will be consumed at a given price. Higher beef consumption at higher prices indicates stronger demand; smaller consumption at a lower price indicates weaker demand.  However, stronger demand can also be the result of lower consumption at higher prices or higher consumption at lower prices if the positive change is larger than the negative change. This is measured by the Canadian Retail Beef Demand Index.

Beef demand is influenced by consumer income, prices of competing proteins (e.g. poultry, pork and lentils) and evolving consumer preferences for convenience, health benefits and taste.  Continue reading