Canadian food chains back country's beef

Calgary: Two major Canadian fast-food chains have moved to show their support for the embattled Canadian beef industry by increasing their purchases of Canadian beef. Canada is facing a ban on the importation of its country's beef by the US and other major trading partners because of the May discovery of mad cow disease in a Canadian cow.

Calgary: Two major Canadian fast-food chains have moved to show their support for the embattled Canadian beef industry by increasing their purchases of Canadian beef. Canada is facing a ban on the importation of its country's beef by the US and other major trading partners because of the May discovery of mad cow disease in a Canadian cow.

With exports down drastically, the Canadian beef industry is losing an estimated $8 million a day.

The crisis led Burger King Canada on July 16 to announce it would begin using nothing but Canadian beef in its 360 outlets. Two days later, A&W Food Service of Canada made a similar announcement.

The actions reinforce a safe image for Canadian beef, said Marty Carpenter, national foodservice team leader for the Beef Information Center, the marketing arm of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

The center has been working on media relations with major Canadian news outlets to stress that the beef supply is safe.

Canadian beef consumption has risen since the discovery of the diseased cow this spring, a sign the country is supporting the industry, Carpenter said. "We've successfully put out the message that Canadian beef is safe to Canadians," he added.

A&W and Burger King reported positive consumer reaction to their announcements.

"It makes good corporate-citizen sense. We're obviously showing support for the Canadian beef industry," said Lisa Brenneman, national marketing manager with Burger King Canada. "If we buy it, it obviously is a good, quality product."

"Any consumer response we've had has been extremely positive," said Trish Sahlstrom, VP of purchasing and distribution at A&W. "I would say this is certainly a vote of confidence; that was our motivation."

Carpenter said while his group will continue putting out the message that Canadian beef is safe, the Canadian government's major challenge now is trying to overturn the US ban on importing Canadian beef.

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