FAQ

Does beef production have an impact on biodiversity?
Cattle have the same positive effect on biodiversity as the herds of bison that once roamed the Prairies of Western Canada. By grazing, cattle promote species diversity in grassland areas. Grazing curbs the growth of grasses that would otherwise be so dense, flowering plants and other species wouldn’t be able to compete. Similarly, beef production on farms promotes species diversity, making agriculture more productive and sustainable. The use of manure as fertilizer enhances the soil’s nutrient
content, allowing other species to flourish. Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

Why are antibiotics used in beef production?
Beef producers use antibiotics to ensure optimum health of their animals. In order to maintain animal health, antibiotics may be used to prevent the onset of disease, halt its progression or prevent the spread of illness after it occurs. Only healthy animals grow and reproduce well. Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

Are all cattle given hormones?
Each beef producer makes a business decision on the use of hormonal substances. This decision is based on many factors, including the cost/benefit of purchasing and administering the hormone. However, since cattle are bought and sold, there is only one way to ensure that a beef product has never received any hormonal substance. One must purchase beef, which has appropriate verification that it has been sourced from cattle that have been raised without the use of hormonal substances, such as certified organic beef. There is no such thing as hormone-free beef. Even beef raised organically will contain hormones. All animal products contain hormones because all animals produce hormones naturally. The hormone levels found in a sample of organic beef are similar to beef from animals given hormonal substances. For more information see Understanding Hormone Use in Beef.  Source: Canada Beef Inc.

What is the difference between grass fed cattle and grain finished cattle?
There is much debate over the benefits of grass finished or grain finished beef. All cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass on pastures. Those that are grain finished, are fed a mixture of grain to their hay and forage (grasses) diets for about four to six months. While an animal’s diet can impact beef’s fatty acid profile, it remains primarily monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids regardless of the feeding practice. For example, extended grain feeding can actually increase the amount of monounsaturated fat, a heart-healthy fat which has cholesterol-lowering effects.

  • One-third of the saturated fat in beef is stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels and is the same fat recognized in chocolate for its benefits. Polyunsaturated fatty acids represent the smallest class of lipids found in beef which include omega-3, omega-6 and conjugated linoleic acid.
  • Preliminary studies have shown that grass fed beef has elevated levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). However, more research is required to determine whether these increased levels are high enough to provide positive health benefits. Source: Canada Beef Inc.

What are beef producers and meat processors doing to prevent E. coli O157:H7?
As few as 10 bacteria are all it takes to cause illness from E. coli O157:H7. As these bacteria are very common, every part of the food and water production system must work to control the risk. The beef industry has invested in research projects with the goal of reducing or eliminating these bacteria, including vaccines to prevent E. coli O157:H7 growth in live cattle and the search for feeds that may prevent its spread. The beef industry has also developed methods to treat meat surfaces with steam to reduce E. coli O157:H7 during processing. Beef producers are developing and adopting on-farm manure management plans. These plans include procedures to keep manure away from water supplies. Meat processors have also developed internationally recognized systems known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plans to control E.coli O157:H7 and other foodborne bacteria. These plans identify potential food safety hazards and monitor the most important production steps (critical points) to ensure these hazards are controlled before the product is sent to the grocery store. Source: Canada Beef Inc.