beef - Frequently asked questions

Do you give your cattle antibiotics?

Our ranchers only use antibiotics when medically necessary to ensure the health of the animal, in the same way that most doctors recommend the use of antibiotics for people.

What does your “100% Pure Beef Guarantee” really mean?

Our 100% Pure Beef Guarantee means that all of our beef is raised without any added hormones or steroids and comes from ranchers who are committed to being leaders in sustainable production. We use only 100% beef for our patties and add absolutely nothing else. No additives. No preservatives. Just beef.

What do you feed your cattle?

All of our cattle are fed a fully vegetarian diet. Typically, our cattle enjoy a mix of different grains and grass.

Does your beef supply go through verifications or audits?

We ensure that all our suppliers provide documentation to confirm that all of their supply meets our specifications. We audit all facilities that handle our beef and they are also audited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or equivalent regulatory agencies as well as third-party auditors to ensure ethical and humane treatment of the animals.

Have you changed the taste of your burgers?

We know that Canadians have loved the A&W Burger Family since 1956. That’s why we’ve never changed a thing about our recipe, other than using beef that’s been raised without any added hormones or steroids.

Which A&W burgers contain this beef?

The whole Burger Family — from Baby to Uncle® to Grandpa® — contains 100% pure beef, raised without any added hormones or steroids.

What should I do if I have more questions?

Think we missed something? We’re happy to answer all your questions about our beef at guarantee@aw.ca.

What is different about your chicken?

We are very proud to be the first and only national fast food restaurant serving chicken raised without the use of antibiotics.

Are your chicken burgers made with real chicken?

Absolutely! All of our chicken strips and burgers use 100% real seasoned white chicken breast.

I thought antibiotics were banned in chickens?

Antibiotics are not banned, but chicken and egg farmers across Canada have voluntarily stopped the preventative use of Category 1 antibiotics. Category 1 antibiotics are those that are the most important for use in human medicine. Other antibiotics are approved for use in the raising of livestock in Canada.

If chickens get sick and require the use of antibiotics, they will be treated, but they will not be included in the supply to A&W. Instead of using antibiotics, our chicken farmers take other measures to prevent diseases such as maintaining very strict hygiene rules, adapting the chickens’ feed, and limiting the size of the flock.

Are your chickens raised using hormones and steroids?

No chicken in Canada is raised with hormones or steroids. The use of hormones and steroids in chicken production has been banned in Canada since the 1960s.

Where do you source your chicken from? Is it Canadian?

Yes, our chicken comes from Canadian chicken farms.

Why are antibiotics typically used for raising chickens?

Antibiotics are typically injected into the egg and added to the feed in low dosages in order to prevent disease within the chickens and to promote health. In Canada, the antibiotics commonly used to help raise chickens have been approved by the Veterinary Drugs Directorate of Health Canada.

How are your chickens raised?

Raising chickens without antibiotics means that all of our farmers have to ensure that they employ the very best practices in managing every aspect of care for their chickens. We are committed to raising our chickens humanely, and we are proud of the practices our farmers employ—which includes reducing the number of chickens in each barn to allow for more freedom of movement and for easy access to food and water. Our chickens are fed a special grain based diet that does not include animal by-products, and is formulated for optimum health. Each of our chicken barns receive independent, third party audits that focus on overall flock health, and good air quality, climate and lighting conditions.

To learn more about A&W's leadership position on animal welfare, click here.

What standards do you have for euthanasia?

The animal welfare standards we set and audit for are based on scientifically supported humane practices. These include standards for euthanasia. Controlled atmosphere stunning allows for less bird handling at the end of life and is being implemented in our standards.

What’s different about these eggs?

Our eggs are from hens fed a vegetarian diet without animal by-products.

What do you feed the hens that produce your eggs?

Their diet is an all-vegetarian mix of grains and seeds such as flax, corn, wheat, barley and soy. It is high in fibre and contains no medications, antibiotics or animal by-products. Their feed has also been enriched with vitamins D, E and B12, as well as folacin.

Do the eggs taste different?

We’re really proud of how great our eggs taste and some people have told us they taste better than other eggs they eat. Our guests have told us that they prefer eggs fed a vegetarian diet with no animal by-products and we're proud to meet that standard.

Are the hens housed in cages?

Yes. Our hens are housed in cages designed to provide a clean environment, fresh food, and water. Because our Canadian climate is so variable, most hens are housed within temperature-controlled laying barns. Over 90% of eggs in Canada come from conventional-style cages, but we are proud to commit to sourcing 100% of our A&W eggs from enriched-colony-housing. These housing systems are bigger than conventional cages, giving the hens more space, and allowing for small social groups in controlled environments. Hens have access to fresh food and water as well as nests, perches, and scratching areas at all times.

Our laying hens are all raised and cared for by Canadian egg farmers, who meet or exceed all standards and guidelines of the Egg Farmers of Canada’s own Animal Care Program developed by veterinarians, scientists, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the CFIA.

Why isn't A&W using cage-free eggs?

No national quick service restaurant is serving cage-free eggs now or in the near future. There simply aren’t enough available. We felt it was important to improve quickly, so we worked closely with our farmers and transitioned from conventional to 100% enriched-colony-housing. Although these eggs cost us a bit more, we think the investment is worthwhile.

How fresh are they?

Our eggs are delivered to every restaurant at least once a week to ensure they’re as fresh as possible.

Are your egg-laying hens given antibiotics?

In Canada, every chick raised to become an egg-laying hen receives a small amount of antibiotics to give her the best possible start and a healthy life. After that, hens that lays eggs for A&W cannot be fed or given antibiotics.

Of course, if the laying hen becomes sick, we believe she should be treated as needed, which includes the use of antibiotics when necessary. But, by our specification, her eggs would no longer be served in our restaurants.

We know it's important to many Canadians to avoid antibiotics, and we will continue to look for ways to eliminate them entirely.

What should I do if I have more questions?

Think we missed something? We’re happy to answer all of your questions about our eggs at guarantee@aw.ca.

What is different about your pork?

All of our pork products—including our bacon, sausage links and sausage patties—come from pork raised without the use of antibiotics.

What is in your bacon recipe?
What does "nothing artificial" mean, and does the bacon contain nitrates or nitrites?

We do not add artificial preservatives such as artificial nitrates or nitrites to our bacon. We only use naturally occurring preservatives: salt and cultured celery extract. Cultured celery extract contains naturally occurring nitrites.

I thought antibiotics were banned for use with pigs in Canada?

Antibiotics are not banned for use in pigs raised for their meat in Canada. However, our pork products only come from pork raised without the use of antibiotics.

What happens if one of your pigs gets sick? Are they given antibiotics?

If an animal gets sick, our farmers will work with veterinarians to consider all treatment options to protect animal health and welfare. If antibiotics are required, the animal will be treated but will not supply A&W.

Are your pigs given hormones or steroids?

No, our pigs are not given hormones or steroids. This is the same for all pork in Canada.

Do you use gestation crates?

Animal welfare is a top concern for A&W, and we only work with farmers who treat their pigs compassionately and responsibly. We are committed to phasing out gestation crates, but are not there just yet. We currently use a combination of open housing and gestation crates with more of our farms being converted to crate-free each year.

Where are your pigs raised?Where is your bacon from?

All of our pigs are raised in Canada.

We’re proud to say that all of the bacon we serve in our Québec A&W restaurants comes from Québec farmers. These farmers work throughout the entire province, respecting both our standards and our customers’ expectations. Because we know our customers are always looking for even better ingredients.