"A&W is the first and only quick service restaurant chain to serve eggs from hens in enriched housing and raised without the use of antibiotics. A&W is committing to improving and redesigning housing for egg laying hens within two years. A&W egg laying hens in enriched housing pictured. (A&W Food Services of Canada Inc.) (CNW Group/A&W Restaurants)".
A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. announces today a major commitment to become the first national quick service restaurant in Canada to serve eggs from hens raised in better cage-free housing. It 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. Currently, there are no open barn housing options available that meet A&W's supply needs and allow for an antibiotic-free environment.
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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.
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.
"At A&W, we are committed to finding better hen housing options within two years that can benefit Canadians, egg farmers and the entire food industry," says Susan Senecal, President and Chief Operating Officer, A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. "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."
"Right now, cage-free is only being done by a relatively small number of producers in the industry, who cannot fulfill the volume, needs and specifications of A&W," says Dr. John Church, PhD, Natural Resource Science, and Thompson Rivers University. "We need to improve the standards for laying hens overall, particularly when it comes to the health and welfare of the flock, and Canada has an opportunity to be a world leader in this area."
Funding a Sustainable Egg Future
A&W's initial $100,000 grant to Farm & Food Canada will be used to fund a leadership discussion, potential research and related work with animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, university researchers, non-government organizations, farmers, egg suppliers and food service/restaurant and retail companies.
Background on Building Better Housing First
Innovation is the norm at A&W. As the only national QSR serving eggs from enriched housing, A&W is already at the forefront of egg laying hen health and welfare. This has been achieved against an industry background where more than 90 per cent of Canada's egg supply still comes from battery cages.
"Enriched housing helps farmers to ensure hen safety and minimizes mortality and aggressive behaviours that are difficult to control in open barn settings," says Dr. Church. "Enriched housing is more spacious and the hens also have access to adequate food and water as well as nests, perches and scratching areas, which allows them to engage in many more natural behaviours compared to battery cages."
"We have a long history of innovating. We worked with highly committed Canadian egg farmers to move from conventional cages," says Senecal. "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."
SOURCE A&W Restaurants
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