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Food Safety - Meeting Customer Needs & Canadian Government Regulations

Food Safety - Meeting Customer Needs & Canadian Government Regulations

The industrialization of our food system is scary. Over the last 30 years we've worked hard to develop standards and procedures that meet the most stringent food safety criteria. We control all aspects of production from pasture to plate which gives us the flexibility to implement programs designed specifically to meet the needs of our customers.

Meeting Customer Needs and Government Regulations on TK Ranch

Meeting the food safety needs of our customers, as well as those set out by the  Canadian Food Inspection Agency  and the  Alberta Meat Inspection Branch  (MIB), are very important to us. After speaking to thousands of people about their food safety concerns we created our stringent protocols. These include:

  • All animals are tracked from birth to slaughter with ear tags, freeze brands and  RFID  (radio frequency identification) tags for traceability;
  • The use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics is not allowed, this includes the use of  ionophores  (feed antibiotics that are used to prevent illness in cattle that are fed grain). We use antibiotics therapeutically (one time use) to treat sick or injured animals to prevent suffering. We treat very few because raising them on pasture using low stress handling keeps them healthy and content. Often it's calves that get sick in the fall when the weather starts changing. The withdrawal time if they're treated is usually 18 months to two years;
  • Artificial growth hormones (eg.  Ralgro ) are not allowed (some people refer to these as steroids). We also don't use any other growth promotants like  ractopamine .
  • The feeding of animal by-products is not allowed;
  • The use of chemical insecticides is not allowed (eg.  Ivomec );
  • Only unsprayed and/or certified organic feed is allowed. Animals must also graze on unsprayed and/or certified organic pastures (unless severe drought causes a feed shortage and no other options are available);
  • The feeding of  GMOs  (genetically modified organisms) is not allowed;
  • All processed meats must be made without the use of MSG, gluten, milk products, nitrites, nitrates or other artificial ingredients or fillers.

Slaughter and Processing

In 2016 TK Ranch completed construction of our own government inspected red meat slaughter facility, it's located right on our ranch. It's third party audited to the highest animal welfare standards in North America –  Animal Welfare Approved . This way we don't have to transport our animals long distances or lose control of how they are treated at the end of their lives. We also built our own  Alberta Health Services  inspected and approved meat cutting facility on land we purchased near Calgary. Currently we only process between 4 and 6 beef and 6 pigs every week and this is done with the utmost respect by TK Ranch family members and staff. When you compare this model to large factory facilities that process  4,500 beef  or  10,000 pigs  every day you can appreciate how much of a difference this makes to the animal and the end product.