March 10, 2016 –A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. has announced a major commitment to become the first national quick service restaurant in Canada to serve eggs from hens raised in better cage-free housing. According to a company press release, the company expects to achieve this goal within two years. “A&W has already established its leadership role by being the first and only quick service restaurant chain to serve eggs from hens in enriched housing and raised without the use of antibiotics,” the company said. “Currently, there are no open barn housing options available that meet A&W’s supply needs and allow for an antibiotic-free environment.”
A&W is committing to improving and redesigning housing for egg laying hens, and will source eggs from hens raised without the use of antibiotics while simultaneously advancing the best practices for egg laying hens.
In the press release, the company said that “as a part of its commitment to improving egg laying hen housing, a $100,000 A&W grant is being made to Farm & Food Care Canada, a leading Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to building public trust in food and farming. With this investment, the organization will bring together industry experts from many fields to help build on existing work and set better direction for hen housing in Canada.”
Farm & Food Care Canada released the following statement to clarify A&W Food Services of Canada Inc.’s assertion that the charitable organization will be receiving funds to further hen housing research:
Contrary to media reports, Farm & Food Care Canada will not be funding research into finding better cage-free housing alternatives for hens. On March 10, A&W announced plans to contribute $100,000 to Farm & Food Care Canada. In its press release, A&W stated the following: “As a part of its commitment to improving egg laying hen housing, a $100,000 A&W grant is being made to Farm & Food Care Canada, a leading Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to building public trust in food and farming. With this investment, the organization will bring together industry experts from many fields to help build on existing work and set better direction for hen housing in Canada.”
Farm & Food Care Canada was approached for this work earlier this week as a third party coordinator to host a session to bring egg industry partners, retail and food service from across Canada together with the US Center for Food Integrity’s Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply. The principle of the discussion would be to broaden it beyond hen welfare to include all issues impacting sustainable eggs including food safety, environment, hen health, worker health and safety and food affordability and determine areas that the Canadian egg sector felt this funding would be best spent.
No agreements have been or will be signed for the funding or its terms until after the Farm & Food Care Canada board of directors and egg industry partners have discussed best options. Farm & Food Care and the new Canadian Centre for Food Integrity does not advocate for positions on issues or for specific companies.
Susan Senecal, President and Chief Operating Officer, A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. said the company is “committed to finding better hen housing options within two years that can benefit Canadians, egg farmers and the entire food industry. “We are investing in innovation to accelerate the pace of change because right now there are no viable cage-free egg options that meet our supply standards regarding the use of antibiotics. We are committed to change because we think it is the right thing for the animals, the industry, our business and Canada.”
As the only national QSR serving eggs from enriched housing, A&W says it is already at the forefront of egg laying hen health and welfare.
“We have a long history of innovating. We worked with highly committed Canadian egg farmers to move from conventional cages,” Senecal said in the company release. “While it costs more, we made the switch because it was the right thing to do. Now we are advancing to the next stage. We have led our industry in the past and we will continue to lead in the future.”