Q&A on conventional production of Canadian Beef

Do growth promoting, antimicrobial or other veterinary drugs affect the food safety of Canadian beef?



Veterinary drugs are regulated by the?Food and Drugs Act?and Regulations. All veterinary drugs go through a Health Canada approval process before they are licensed for use.? The?Health Canada Veterinary Drug Directorate?(VDD) evaluates and monitors the safety, quality and effectiveness, and sets standards for the use of veterinary drugs to ensure that, when used according to label directions, they are safe for both animals and humans.

For a more detailed explanation of the veterinary drug approval process in Canada, download ‘Canada’s Veterinary Drug Approval Process

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Label and veterinary directions indicate proper administration doses and routes for veterinary products, as well as pre-slaughter withdrawal times, which ensure that the product has been metabolized by the animal before the meat is harvested. Most drugs are completely metabolized during the prescribed minimum number of days between the last administration of the drug and slaughter, and therefore leave no residue. Continue reading

Trends in consumer perceptions about beef

This Country Called Agriculture, a television show focused on agribusiness topics in Canada, recently aired an episode focused on trends in consumer perceptions about beef.? Host Rob Eirich interviewed BCRC’s Science Director Dr. Reynold Bergen on a number of issues related to the production and food safety of Canadian beef.

The first of four segments responds to common perceptions about the food safety and nutrition of beef, and begins a discussion about antibiotic use in cattle. Continue reading

Q&A on conventional production of Canadian beef

Updated with additional links July 4, 2018

Do growth promoting, antimicrobial or other veterinary drugs affect the food safety of Canadian beef?

Veterinary drugs are regulated by the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. All veterinary drugs go through a Health Canada approval process before they are licensed for use.? The Health Canada Veterinary Drug Directorate (VDD) evaluates and monitors the safety, quality and effectiveness, and sets standards for the use of veterinary drugs to ensure that, when used according to label directions, they are safe for both animals and humans.

For a more detailed explanation of the veterinary drug approval process in Canada, visit Continue reading

How does forage finishing affect product quality?

In Canada, most cattle are raised on forages then finished on a high grain diet at under 20 months of age. Grain-finishing is typical because grains like barley and corn generally contain more energy than forages, and Canada’s relatively short growing season means that forage-finished cattle require stored forage in addition to pasture.



Forage-finished beef contains more omega-3 fatty acids and may contain more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-finished beef, which has sparked interest among some health conscious consumers. However, current levels of omega-3 fatty acid and CLA in beef do not consistently meet Health Canada labeling requirements and research has found that increasing the levels of these unsaturated fats while maintaining meat quality is challenging.

Oxidation of unsaturated fats in forage-finished beef may negatively impact flavor and odor. This has led to concerns that some forage-finishing methods may yield a premium-priced product that does not deliver on the perceived quality or potential health benefits to the consumer. Continue reading

E-beam irradiation research: new fact sheet and video



Irradiation is approved for food treatment in over 50 countries. In Canada, irradiation is approved for spices, seasonings, flour, onions and potatoes. In the United States, irradiation is approved for use in meat at absorbed doses up to 7 kilo Gray (kGy), and it has been scientifically proven safe for food use at absorbed doses up to 60 kGy. Irradiation has insignificant effects on nutrients in beef, even at very high absorbed doses.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, studied the effectiveness of low-dose electron-beam treatment (at 1 kGy) in eliminating harmful bacteria in beef trim used to make ground beef. ?It also studied whether a panel of taste-testers could determine whether or not patties were made with e-beam treated beef based on color, aroma, texture, juiciness or flavor. Continue reading

Explaining Growth Promotants Used in Feedlot Cattle

Feed efficiency in cattle can make or break profitability in the feeding sector, and has environmental implications. The costs of buying a calf and the feed needed to finish it are the two largest variable expenses facing the beef cattle feeding sector. Feed costs are higher than ever because of poor growing conditions in major grain producing countries, because of the use of feed grains in ethanol production, and because of increasing competition of land for crop production versus urban development.



Growth promotants are among the many sophisticated tools used by feedlots and other producers to raise more beef, more rapidly, using less feed, while maintaining high standards of animal health, carcass quality and food safety. Growth promotants include ionophores, growth implants, and beta-agonists. A number of products within each category are approved for use by Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Directorate. Continue reading

Researching Healthy Fats in Beef: CLA and Omega-3

Consumers have shown considerable interest in “healthy fats” and “bad fats” in recent years. The potential health attributes of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids have led to considerable media focus, marketing opportunities and consumer confusion.

Stores now place omega-3 labels on fish, yogurt, eggs and bagels. ?Beef contains both omega-3’s and CLA’s, but you will not find these labels on beef products because Continue reading