Behind the Burger: McDonald’s Verified Sustainable Beef

Consumers are asking how cattle are raised and how they are treated. Maybe you are asking? McDonald’s Canada, through third party verification, has validated sustainable beef production by Canadian ranches through a pilot project.  We, at Grant Ranch, were fortunate enough to participate in this pilot that wrapped up the end of May.

More than 180 operations — 121 ranches, 34 backgrounding operations, 24 feedlots, two beef processors and one patty plant — completed the third-party process to verify their beef operations as sustainable under the pilot project. According to McDonald’s Canada announcement they tracked the journey of nearly 9,000 head of Canadian cattle, or the equivalent of 2.4 million patties. The cattle spent their entire lives, from “birth to burger,” raised on or handled by verified sustainable operations.

Verified sustainable beef is a way of providing more information to the consumer about producer practices. It showcases what we are already doing. It aligns with our philosophy. In a business enterprise that requires a highly functioning biological ecosystem for long term operation, it is necessary to have an approach that maintains sustainability. We, at Grant Ranch, have always focused on leaving a legacy for future generations and to be continuously learning and applying new technology and information that supports healthy soils and animals.

McDonald’s was looking to work with Canadian Beef producers and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef in a total supply chain manner that is realistic. They follow the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef‘s five principles:

  1. Natural Resources – such as ensuring soil health, water supply and wildlife and plant biodiversity.
  2. People and the Community – include ensuring a safe work environment and commitment to supporting the local community.
  3. Animal Welfare – such as adequate feed to drinking water and minimizing animal stress and pain.
  4. Food – such as ensuring food safety and beef quality, including training and registration in the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program.
  5. Efficiency and Innovation -such as recycling and energy efficiency programs.

Technology is part of the beef industry’s efficiency and innovation principle. It is used to reduce beef’s impact on the environment. Research has shown that innovative production practices in Canada, have reduced greenhouse gases from 1 kg by 15% between 1981 and 2011. But we are not done yet. We are committed to continuous improvement for future generations on our operation, but also for future consumers.

Participating in this pilot project with McDonald’s helped us, as producers, to tell our story to consumers. As in principle 1, soil is the foundation of sustainability, good food and good environment. Our ancestors valued the soil which enables us to grow food from it today. It is our responsibility to care for the soil so it can nourish future generations. We produce food, we care about it, and we want to do it well.


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