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.)
Vancouver-based A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. is the latest foodservice chain to announce a major commitment concerning cage-free hen housing. A&W’s commitment, however, comes with a goal to improve the current state of cage-free hen housing.
According to an A&W press release, the chain plans to become the first national quick-service restaurant in Canada to serve eggs from hens raised in better cage-free housing. A&W expects to achieve this goal within two years.
The press release maintains that currently, there are no open barn housing options available that meet A&W’s supply needs and allow for an antibiotic-free environment. Since A&W has already made a strong commitment to serving eggs from hens raised without antibiotics, the chain is now committing to improving and redesigning housing for egg-laying hens, and plans to 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 Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to building public trust in food and farming. With this investment, the organization plans to bring together industry experts from various fields to help set a better direction for hen housing in Canada, according to the A&W press release.
“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 CEO, 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,” adds 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.”