What is Chain of Custody?

The tracking of beef from Certified Sustainable farms and ranches through the supply chain


‘The custodial sequence that occurs as ownership of the material supply is transferred from one custodian to another in the supply chain’.

(Adapted from: WB, WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use, 2002).

Chain of Custody refers to how cattle and beef from Certified Operations are linked and tracked through the supply chain, including all organizations (supply chain) that take ownership, physically and/or administratively, of a product during production, processing and retail.  

The Chain of Custody model employed by the supply chain determines what CRSB Claims, if any, can be made about the sourcing of the beef. These claims help supply chains demonstrate their sustainable sourcing commitments and deliver consumers science-based, verified information about how their food is raised.

The CRSB's Certified Sustainable Beef Framework uses independent Certification Bodies to audit the Chain of Custody systems to ensure that any claims made on the beef beef are verified at every stage of the supply chain, providing consumers with the confidence that those beef products have been raised according to our sustainability standards.


Chain of Custody Requirements

Chain of Custody Requirements - French


CRSB's Chain of Custody Options

To create a comprehensive Framework that caters to a variety of supply chains and types of food businesses, three different internationally-recognized Chain of Custody models are approved for sourcing of beef from CRSB Certified Operations. 

Identity Preservation

Cattle and beef from individual Certified Operations are separate, and the beef can be linked back to the original Certified farm or ranch where the cattle were raised. To qualify for a product claim, 100% of the beef must be traced to that specific original cattle farm or ranch.

Identity Preservation FINAL 


Beef from CRSB Certified Operations is physically separated from beef sourced from non-certified operations throughout the supply chain; multiple sources of certified products may be mixed during processing.  100% of the beef in an individual product is from Certified farms and ranches.

Segregation FINAL q 

Mass Balance

Physical mixing or blending of beef from CRSB-Certified farms and ranches and from non-certified operations is allowed during processing; incoming and outgoing volumes of beef are documented and controlled.  To qualify for a Mass Balance Claim, a minimum of 30% of the company or brand line’s beef volume must be sourced from CRSB Certified farms and ranches, and the Mass Balance Certification Mark must be used. 

 Mass Balance FINAL

The available CRSB Claims and Marks (logos) used depend on the Chain of Custody model employed by the supply chain, and eligibility for product-related CRSB Claims, whether on-pack or in accompanying marketing/advertising, is subject to a chain of custody audit.

If you are a producer or processor selling product directly to consumers, you will need to conduct BOTH a certification audit and a Chain of Custody audit for your supply chain. 

*In some cases, both a processing audit and Chain of Custody audit can be conducted at the same time, if desired.

Your Certification Body can advise you on what processes you need in place, and what applicable claims and logo use options are available to you.  Check out the Communications, Claims and Labelling Guide for details.

Review the full Chain of Custody Requirements here.

French version Exigences de la Chaine de Possession here.