Various Yarrah wet food products contain organic chicken, turkey and beef, among other things. But, as a manufacturer of organic pet food, how can one be sure the purchased meat is really from animals that had a better life? The only way to find out is a personal visit to those organic companies. One cannot blindly rely on a certificate, and an inspection is a must.
At the end of March, Uruguay (South America), where the beef comes from, is due for a quality check. Purpose of the call is to inspect the entire production chain and to personally make sure the animals are treated well and are eventually killed in a humane manner. And the inspection begins at the source. In one week, two organic farms, three meat processing plants and four abattoirs are visited.
Cattle in Uruguay
Uruguay has about 3 million inhabitants and four times as much lifestock. Approximately 900,000 of those animals are raised on organic farms. Around 80% of the country consists of pastureland, with at least one hectare of land for each animal. Organic cattle doesn’t get any supplementary feed; they eat grass (grass-fed cattle) and drink rainwater only. For that reason, no feed such as soy, corn or wheat goes to waste. The meat from organic, grass-fed cattle contains four times as much Omega 3 and more vitamin E (the most efficient natural antioxidant) than beef from the regular sector.
Organic cattle ranch
Richard Spradling, owner of one of the ranches that Arthur calls on, started raising organic meat cattle in collaboration with Skal and Control Union (both organic certifiers) 17 years ago. His animals, Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle, are free of (growth) hormones and do not receive preventive antibiotics. If an animal is sick and has to be treated with antibiotics, the meat is no longer considered organic beef. The pastures are completely natural with no pesticides or fertilisers being used. Uruguay as a country is completely GMO-free.
Even though the animals have had a better and longer life than cattle from the regular industry, there comes a time when their life will end. By comparison, animals from organic farms live for almost three years, animals from mainstream farms live one year shorter. Uruguay has seven organically certified abattoirs. Arthur visits the abattoirs where our meat comes from. At these locations, he checks that the animals are killed in the most stress-free manner. For instance, the animals are taken to the abattoirs at night because of the cooler air when the herd is more relaxed. The consignment notes of the drivers transporting the animals to the abattoir are also checked: animal transports may not exceed a period of three hours.
PUL is on the list of abattoirs for Arthur to visit. This company has been bio-certified by Control Union since December 2000. As many as 284 organic farmers supply them with animals. PUL checks that the animals are free from growth hormones, traces of pesticides and heavy metals. Arthur gets a full guided tour of the abattoirs, from the animals arriving to the actual filling of the container with the final product.
After his trip, Arthur can look back on a successful mission to Uruguay. The animals are treated well and the farmers, meat processing plants and abattoirs are working in accordance with organic guidelines.
Why meat from Uruguay?
Europe also has organic farms, and people sometimes wonder why organic meet is imported all the way from Uruguay. In a nutshell, it is more sustainable for the following reasons:
- Cattle from Uruguay are not given any supplementary feed, unlike European cattle. It would involve long-distance transport by truck to get feed to the right place. Road transport is no issue for cattle from Uruguay.
- Since the animals get no supplementary feed, products like soy, corn and wheat are not going to waste. And another benefit: no trees have to make room for land cultivation.
- We need a large amount of meat for the production of our feed; more meat than one European supplier can provide. Shipping one sea container full of beef to the Netherlands is far more sustainable than buying meat from a number of suppliers in Europe. It also means substantial savings on road transport.
Best evidence of the full flavour of our products is the fact that almost every dog or cat enjoys our moist food. Almost, because if we expect openness and honesty from our suppliers, our customers can expect the same from us.