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Earls says Canadian beef back on menu after outcry on U.S. sourcing

Restaurant chain now has supply deals with Ontario's Beretta Farms and Alberta's Spring Creek Ranch

Earls restaurant chain says Canadian beef is back in all of its Alberta and Saskatchewan outlets after an outcry from consumers.

The Vancouver-based company said Wednesday that it has supplier deals with Canadian ranchers who raise cattle without antibiotics, steroids, or added hormones and who are regularly audited for animal welfare.

In April, Earls announced it would be sourcing all of its beef from a U.S. supplier that had a Certified Humane designation because there wasn't a supplier in Canada who could provide that.

The chain said it made the switch after surveying customers and staff and finding a majority favoured ``humane'' beef.

But the move prompted online threats to boycott the chain and had the company quickly backtracking.

"Earls has been through a bit of a roller-coaster for the last little while,'' company president Mo Jessa told a news conference. "We've had to listen to our consumers.''

Earls says it now has supplier deals with King City, Ont.,-based Beretta Farms and Vegreville, Alta.,-based Spring Creek Ranch, as well as with beef processor Aspen Ridge.

"We have had to change how we do business,'' said Jessa. "Instead of a single source of supply we are willing to work with multiple partners.''

The company says it continues to develop relationships with new suppliers and plans to eventually have Canadian beef in all of its 66 restaurants in Canada.

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