The changes are based on A&W’s philosophy of continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation of the humane treatment of animals sourced for meat in its menu items. The company works with farmers and animal welfare experts to ensure suppliers meet its standards.
Farmers ensure chickens have an enriched environment to live in, including large barns, clean litter and access to fresh air and water. Lighting, air quality and cleanliness in the barns must be monitored and farms must add physical enhancements to allow for natural bird behaviour. Barns must also have a minimum of six hours of darkness, so chickens have proper sleep cycles.
Chickens at supplier farms receive qualified veterinary care so their health is actively monitored. The birds are raised to a weight considered optimal for maintaining mobility and leg and foot health. The majority of barns operate at a density below industry requirements, so there is enough space for chickens to roam.
“We want to continuously raise the bar to ensure animals are treated with respect,” says Susan Senecal, president of A&W Food Services of Canada.
By 2022, A&W hopes to complete its adoption of controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS), which reduces the individual handling of birds for euthanasia.