What to Look for When Buying Bone Broth in Canada

Making bone broth is expensive, messy and time consuming. Here's a list of questions you should ask yourself before buying a bone broth in Canada or anywhere else.

These questions centre around protein content, ingredients, organic, sourcing, cook time, preservatives and more.

Unless you enjoy the process of making bone broth, you are best to purchase a top quality bone broth.

Even if you wanted to make it at home, finding the right type and quality of bones at a decent price is becoming more difficult. What butchers used to give away are now being priced at $10.99 per kg!

The logical option is to try a pre-made bone broth that ticks all of your boxes. But if you’re health conscious, you should be careful and do some research before buying bone broth in grocery stores.

What do you look for on the package to ensure you’re actually drinking real bone broth? There are many tricks that food companies use on their labels to entice you to buy them.

Most of the 'bone broth' you find on store shelves are mislabelled broth. They do not have the protein needed for any nutritional benefits.

Here is what to look for when buying bone broth in Canada

canada Bone broth comparison guide  buy

You're going to learn how these companies deceive you with marketing speak and gibberish in order to entice you to buy their broth.

Also read to the bottom to find out where to buy bone broth in Canada.

Much of this list will apply to any meat products, however I am more intimately aware with food legislation and law around marketing terms in Canada than elsewhere. You’ll see that it is the wild west out there.

Are “Chicken Bones or Beef Bones” Second on the Ingredient List

Bones in bone broth simmering in a pot

After water, bones should appear next on the ingredient list. It certainly should not read ‘chicken stock’ or ‘broth’ on the ingredient list. These are immediate red flags. Anything with the word ‘base’ in it should be avoided as well.

Companies who are cutting corners use a broth or stock concentrate base as the first ingredient, then they dilute it and add other stuff to mask the awful taste. 

These broth bases come from rendering facilities that use the lowest quality bones you can find.

Without bones on the ingredient list, you are missing out on the powerful nutrients and amino acids (gelatin / collagen) found in the connective tissue of the bones.

Regular stock and broths are decent for cooking if you’re in a pinch, but have zero nutritional benefit.

Is it Certified Organic in Canada?

organic chicken bone broth on kitchen table

To ensure you’re getting maximum benefit from drinking bone broth, you need to be certain the animals from which the bones came from were raised in a low stress environment.

Treating animals with respect throughout their life is the ultimate service we can pay to them. While organic is not the perfect system for regulating meat products, it is the best third party validation we have in Canada.

Third party validation is immensely important. Without certified organic bones, you are placing trust in those who have misplaced incentives.

Especially when combined with a 3rd party animal welfare certification (like the Global Animal Partnership), certified organic in Canada is fantastic.

Canada’s organic standards are higher than the USDA, so I can say with confidence that if you find the ‘Canada Organic’ logo on a package, it is actually organic. Without this logo, it is illegal for companies to make any organic claims in Canada.

Here is an example of a certified organic beef bone broth.

You should also look for companies who source exclusively from Canadian farms and produce the product in Canada.

Organic certification ensures that chickens are at least raised with space to move and go outside, and beef have tons of pasture to frolic on with their friends. Happy animals mean great meat and bones.

Organic also ensures that genetically modified (GMO) feed is not going into these animals. Moreover, these animals are not being pumped with hormones and antibiotics.

What about grass fed or pasture raised bone broth?

I see a lot of smaller scale ranchers saying their meat is far superior to organic because it is ‘grass fed’, ‘grass finished’ or pasture raised.

I tend to agree for beef. I’ve personally met a ton of ranchers and visited farms that are using methods far superior to organic.

I also think that regenerative agriculture is how we are going to save our planet.

The problem is that many of these ranchers do not have 3rd party validation to support these claims. There are bad actors who mislead consumers by stating their food products are from meat that is pasture raised, grass finished, when it is not.

This deception destroys trust in our food system. Consumers have no idea that these terms are meaningless. The nice thing about organic is that you can trust the source.

Does the Bone Broth Brand Use Filler Ingredients

Example of a terrible bone broth protein nutrition label

Toxic ingredients are presented with innocent names. Any bone broth that uses the following should be avoided:

  • Powders (ex: garlic powder)
  • Gelatin
  • Collagen
  • ‘Herbs and spices’
  • Maltodextrin
  • Yeast extract
  • Natural Flavors
  • Guar
  • Chicory Root
  • Citric acid

Read: Bone Broth Powder: Everything You Need to Know

Powdered vegetables are highly processed and have no place in bone broth. The term ‘herbs and spices’ scares me like you wouldn't believe. I’m not sure it’s legal to put this on a label, but I’ve seen it on bone broth products.

Maltodextrin is a processed form of starch, usually corn as it is the cheapest to produce. It’s used as a thickener and a way to extend shelf life.

The scary part is that if used in small enough quantities, it does not need to be on ingredients panel. I would think about that when you consider any ‘shelf stable’ bone broth products.

Yeast extract is a secret name for MSG. Yes that same MSG that your favourite ethnic restaurants used to enhance flavour. Some still do. 

Gelatin is tricky as hell. Some bone broth brands are using it to make their bone broth 'gel' at fridge temperature.

They need to add gelatin because their bone broth doesn't gel. Sneaky eh? Gelatin also adds protein to their bone broth, making it look higher quality than it is. 

grass fed organic beef bone broth concentate

Companies do similar thing with collagen to bulk up the protein on the label. When you're looking at where to buy bone broth in Canada, avoid the ingredients above.

Is it Sold Fresh or Frozen

Food goes bad. This is the way it should be. As a result, any liquid bone broth you consume should be fresh or frozen.

Freezing is a wonderful means of preservation. Although inconvenient, it is the safest way to ensure your broth is free from preservatives and fillers.

Shelf stable room temperature liquid bone broths contain many of the filler ingredients I listed above. They also contain nasty additives to stop moisture from building. 

These anti caking agents are used in quantities just small enough that they do not need to be declared on food labels.

take the bone broth quiz

Do they use Buzzwords: Pasture Raised, Free Range, Grass Fed/Finished

These words are meaningless. To start, free range chicken is just marketing.

Look for organic chicken bone broth instead. Conventional chicken as an industry is much worse than beef in terms of animal welfare. Chickens are kept in large indoor barns much of the year.

Some farms have a small outdoor field attached to the covered barn where chickens can go, in theory. This is where 'free range' came from.

The most depressing part is that chickens rarely venture into pasture if given the choice. They prefer to stay indoors and close to the food.

There are smaller farming operations that truly have birds that I would call pasture raised. But if you have ever seen or eaten a real pasture raised chicken, the meat is much different than what you’re used to.

They are skinny from walking around on pasture. The meat is dry and sinewy, awful for eating. Depressing isn’t it?

Grass fed beef is better, but still deceiving. All beef is Canada is technically grass fed and raised on pasture for ⅔ of their life. So you can call anything grass fed.

Without speaking to the product maker to substantiate where the grass fed beef is coming from I would have a difficult time trusting these claims.

What about grass finished? In Canada there is no independent certification for this, so you are placing trust in those who are incentivized to tell you what you want to hear. The system is unfortunately broken.

Are They Stuffing Health Food in the Ingredient List

Another trick is to add trendy ingredients but in tiny amounts so they help the ingredient list look sexy. These ingredients are usually additional herbs or superfoods, but in such small quantities, they would have no impact on your health. 

These products are easy to spot because they pad 3-5 buzzword ingredients. By law in Canada ingredients need to be stated in descending order of prominence. That is why salt is usually last.

Beware of some products highlighting sexy ingredients on the front of their package if it appears last in the ingredient panel on the back.

Is it Simmered Slowly

chicken stock compared to bone broth

Conventional stocks, broths and bone broths are processed at high heat for 1-2 hours. No bueno. You’ll want to do some research to ensure your bone broth is simmered slowly for a long time.

You need a slow and gradual cook time in order to extract the collagen, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), vitamins and minerals from the bones. High heat damages these amino acids. 

Speaking of simmering, learn what home cooks and experts get wrong about making bone broth.

Many bone broths do not list simmer times on their label. In this case I would check their website to get some more information.

What Type of Packaging is Used

beef broth 750 ml pack size package

Less than 5% of the environmental impact of packaging is found in the final disposal stage.

Over 95% of the damage is attributed to the energy used and toxins created in the manufacturing and delivery of packaging (1).

When you take a holistic approach to the environmental footprint of your packaging, things are not as they seem.

From the outside you would assume that recyclable materials like glass jars are the most environmentally friendly, however this is only the case for highly toxic materials like PVC.

The lightest packages produce the least environmental waste. This is where the biggest net environmental impact is.

Recycling is great. However, it is a buzzword that holds people’s attention, but is really a lower priority choice than redesigning packaging to be as light and slight as possible.

What is the Protein Content?

In order for bone broth to have a gel consistency at fridge temperature, there must be at least 8 grams of protein per 250ml. Anything less on the ingredient list and I would not call bone broth.

You do occasionally see bone broths with 15g or in one case I saw 26g of protein per 250ml, however these are made up numbers. It is impossible to have 26g of protein per 250ml in bone broth.

Most smaller companies will look to larger companies and copy the nutrition facts on their labels. I’ve seen a few companies copy our nutrition facts verbatim. That is because lab testing is expensive. We pay $800-1200 per sku for nutrition facts analyses.

You’d be smart to look for between 8-12 grams of protein per 250ml. Some companies have more carbohydrates and fat per serving. This is a matter of personal preference. Fat gives bone broth a fantastic taste, but adds significant calories. The calories to taste trade off is a matter of personal preference.

 

 instant bone broth powder from bluebird provisions

Is the Beef Bone Broth Cooked in Stainless Steel Pots?

There’s a wide range of cookware available on the market. Many of which are not great for your health. In the soup and broth space, aluminum is an example of commonly used cookware which may pose health risks to you.

Aluminum pots are shown to leach aluminum into the food during cooking. While we are not certain what levels are harmful to humans, it’s an easy swap which potentially keeps you healthy.

Ask your bone broth purveyor what type of pots or kettles they use. If they are confused by your question, there’s your answer. Probably not the broth for you.

Stainless steel is one of the few metals that is non-reactive as cookware. Meaning the metal pots do not interact with the food or affect the flavour of your meal.

An Organic Bone Broth in Canada Just for You

So there you have it! 11 things to look for when buying bone broth. You can choose which of the above factors are most important to you, then look for a bone broth that meets those criteria.

With this checklist you should be armed with the right tools to figure out where to buy bone broth in Canada.

I’d recommend poking around websites of bone broths before you buy them. Look at the FAQ page to see how they are operating. Or just try my delicious and nutritious bone broth.

Over the course of making 180,000 L of organic bone broth, I've mastered the technique of making it.

What about Bone Broth Powder?

Bone broth powders do have their place. There is no substitute for frozen, but if you are busy and need a convenient form of bone broth, you can try bone broth powder. Bluebird Provisions makes a delicious and convenient bone broth powder.

Read my in depth comparison of different bone broth powders here. 

instant bone broth powder poured into a blender

FAQ's About Bone Broth in Canada

Can you buy bone broth in the grocery store in Canada?

Yes. You can buy bone broth at most grocery stores with a natural foods section in Canada. The highest quality bone broth in Canada is found in the freezer section, near the frozen meat, TV dinners or vegan protein foods. You can also buy bone broth online from Bluebird Provisions. We ship directly to your home or office.

What is the best bone broth to buy in Canada?

The best bone broth in Canada comes down to personal preference, budget and taste. In terms of quality, the best bone broth in Canada is certified organic, made and sourced in Canada and slow simmered. Bluebird Provisions is a bone broth that ticks all of these boxes. Scroll up for the full list of what to look for.

Why is a quality bone broth so good for you?

Bone broth is full of collagen protein, electrolytes and protein that we do not get in our western diet. Bone broth is good for joint health, skin health and gut health. It is naturally made and minimally processed. 

Where can I buy organic bone broth in Canada?

You can buy bone broth in Canada at Whole Foods, Healthy Planet, Buy Low Markets, Nesters Markets, Choices Markets, City Avenue Market, Stong's, Urban Fare, Fiddleheads, Natural Food Pantry, Ambrosia, Rowe Farms, Nutter's, Dad's Organic, and more. Check the freezer section. 

Where can I buy Bone Broth in Toronto?

You can buy bone broth in Toronto at Healthy Planet, Ambrosia, Rowe Farms, Natural Food Pantry and other great stores. Find it in the freezer section. Or find a bone broth powder in the soup section at Whole Foods Market locations.

Why are organic bone broths better than non-organic?

Organic bone broths are better than non-organic because of the ingredient sourcing, quality and ethics of the bones used to make it. Without organic or some form of third party validation, you cannot trust the sourcing of your bone broth.

Where to buy bones for broth

You can buy bones for broth from your local farmer's market, butcher or grocery store. Grocery stores sometimes have bones in the freezer section. In farmers markets, be sure to ask any vendors that sell animal products if they can bring bones for you next week. Oftentimes they don't bring them unless you ask.

What is the best store bought bone broth in Canada?

The best store bought bone broth in Canada is made by Bluebird Provisions. Their bone broth is certified organic, has 11 g protein per serving plus hydrating electrolytes. You can find Bluebird Provisions online or in the freezer section at Healthy Planet, Whole Foods (BC only), Ambrosia, Buy Low Foods, Rowe Farms, Natural Food Pantry, Nature's Fare (soup section), Nature's Emporium and more!

What are the best chicken broth brands?

The best chicken broth brands are Bluebird Provisions. Their chicken broth is full of collagen, protein, is delicious tasting and perfect to cook with.

Is store bought bone broth still healthy?

Store bought bone broth is still healthy provided that you are picking the right brand of bone broth that meets all of the criteria laid out in this article.

 

7 comments

Hi T,

Thanks for your info on MSG. I will admit that I haven’t looked at the research in a long time on MSG. I will do more research and possibly write about it in the future.

Connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions September 01, 2021

I trusted you until you said “msg should be banned.” Please research. Msg was falsely been labeled as bad. It was a discrimination tactic used against Asians. The effects people get from it are a placebo.

T September 01, 2021

Hi, Catherine,

Glad you found the information useful. Let me know if you need any help deciding which bone broth to buy.
connor

Connor at Bluebird Provisions June 15, 2021

For health reasons I have been looking at beef and chicken broth to drink before I retire at night. However I have been overwhelmed by all the products, ingredients, etc. I am so glad I read your article. It was direct and extremely informative. Thank you.

Catherine June 15, 2021

This was a great article. Very comprehensive and helpful in my bone broth research. Thank you!

Jprentice April 09, 2021

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your comment. The bone broth will be great for your pups. I feed my husky and poodle both beef bone broth as a topper on their meals, and they love it!

Here’s a good primer on bone broth for dogs: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/blogs/news/bone-broth-for-dogs

Connor at Bluebird Provisions February 07, 2021

Great information as I source out the best of the best in Canadian organic bone broths. I want to purchase for my family including our 2 Frenchies (French Bull dogs). I feed them a raw diet and am also researching even better organic farms for pork.
Thank you

Lisa Connell February 07, 2021

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"Amazing!

Great taste and texture. Will be purchasing this again. Works great on its own for sipping and also in soup!"

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