Verified Beef Production (VBP) is Canada's verified on-farm food safety program for beef – a dynamic program to uphold consumer confidence in the products and good practices of this country's beef producers.
Canada's beef producers already have a reputation for acting responsibly, but VBP takes that to a new level. Grass-roots driven and industry-led, the program is part of a broad effort by Canada's food providers to ensure on-farm food safety. It's based on the principles of an international quality control program used widely in many industries, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which has been specifically adapted for VBP.
The overall result is stronger competitiveness for Canada's beef industry, as food safety continues to grow as a major factor in consumer buying decisions. Click on the following links to jump to different sections of VBP information included below, or simply continue reading down to view the complete information.
Program roots. The VBP program grew from its roots in the Quality Starts Here (QSH) program, an educational initiative started by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association to help the beef industry move toward the highest beef quality in the world. Learn more about QSH here.
National, global effort. The VBP program is also part of a broad, global trend in food production, both in Canada and internationally, toward verified food safety standards. This includes many on-farm food safety management programs in different sectors of food production implemented in Canada and major food production countries around the world. Learn more about other Canadian on-farm food safety programs here.
Workshops held regularly across Canada as part of the VBP program inform beef producers of program fundamentals:
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs for management practices in the VBP program are designed to reduce or eliminate the possibility of a food safety concern on a beef cattle operation. They include a set of "must do" requirements as well as recommended procedures to help reduce the chance of a hazard, along with a record keeping component to demonstrate what was done. VBP program SOPs cover animal health management, cattle shipping, medicated feed, pesticide control and training / communications.
Effective records. Documenting food safety management practices is the proof that withdrawal times are followed and potential hazards are minimized.
Verification. When SOPs are verified through a third party, audit-style process, farm operations achieve the credibility and profile of meeting national VBP standards.
VBP is based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which are adapted to fit the VBP program. HACCP is the standard used around the world and HACCP-based programs are in place in all federally processed plants for meat and other products. Packing plants have made substantial investments to implement HACCP-based programs at the plant level and will soon want to source their inputs from HACCP-based programs.
A VBP-registered operation provides immediate and long-term benefits for Canadian beef producers.
- Proof of responsible actions
- Improve awareness of food safety risks
- Readiness should market require it
- Improved use of animal health products
- Optional: authenticity of 3rd party audit
- Take credit for what you're doing
- Tool to develop branded products
- Basis for training staff/family members
- Satisfaction of doing things right
- VBP program is recognized by Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The success of Canada's beef industry depends on consumer confidence worldwide. VBP helps the industry achieve that in several ways:
- Defining standards for the safety, quality and consistency of Canadian beef and beef products.
- Building potential to increase market share, domestically and internationally.
- Helping to minimize costly product recalls.
- VBP complements food safety programs beyond the farm gate.
- Providing a tool to develop market alliances, which may improve economic returns, within the agriculture and processing sectors.
- Enhancing quality improvement and crisis management abilities.
Simple steps to VBP participation
- Contact the Provincial Delivery Agent (PDA) for information or to register for a local Quality Starts Here workshop. Click here for a list of PDAs across Canada.
- The half-day workshops are scheduled for small or large groups of producers to explain the program basics. There is no obligation to participate further.
- Producers can choose to simply implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). If they wish, producers can move to the VBP registration stage, where their production practices and documentation are audited.
- To qualify for registration under the VBP audit program, cow/calf operations must implement the VBP program for at least six months; feedlot owners for at least three months.
- The audit, which takes about a half day, involves a cost (including traveling expenses) to have a trained auditor visit the operation and assess SOPs and documentation.
- Producers who successfully meet VBP criteria will be issued an official VBP registration certificate and can market their operation as VBP-registered.
A handy collection of the information summarized in this section, as well as other details on the basics of VBP, is available in two handout documents developed for Canadian beef producers. Click on the links below to download PDF copies.