Canada’s second-largest burger chain says its beef is now free of hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.

A&W announced this week it is “proud to be the first national burger restaurant to serve this better beef,” in a move likely to be applauded by advocates of healthier eating.

It was a real challenge to make this happen,” A&W’s chief marketing officer, Susan Senecal, told the Vancouver Sun. “We wanted to make sure we achieved perfect isolation ... through [the beef’s] entire life cycle … We wanted to ensure we would be able to track this, and that took a long time.”

The presence of hormones and antibiotics in meat has been a subject of controversy. Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulate the amount and type of hormones used, and say the levels found in meat are fit for human consumption. But growth hormones in meat are banned in the EU.

Many health food advocates and researchers argue against growth hormones. Some say hormones in meat are to blame for early onset of puberty in girls and other issues.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned that growing use of antibiotics in farm animals’ food supply is worsening the problem of antimicrobial resistance — the phenomenon of bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics.

"Antimicrobial resistance is one of our most serious health threats," the CDC stated.

Health Canada has issued similar warnings in the past.

But, like the U.S. FDA, Health Canada sees little problem with most growth hormones given to animals.

Scientific research to date has not demonstrated that food products from animals treated with these hormonal growth promoters pose a threat to human health,” the department’s website states.

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  • 10) Jucy Lucy, Matt's Bar (Minneapolis)

    Ah, the inimitable Jucy Lucy (yes, Matt's spells it without the "i"). While the battle rages between Matt’s Bar and the nearby 5-8 Club over who originally invented this brilliant burger variation, the one at Matt’s Bar is a superior specimen. Legend has it that shortly after the restaurant opened in 1954 a hungry customer came in and asked for two burger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. He took a bite, proclaimed it to be "one juicy Lucy!," and a legend was born. Only fresh-ground beef goes into each hand-formed burger, and the first bite yields a river of molten, gooey cheese. These burgers are much more difficult to make than it may appear, and the one at Matt’s Bar is absolute perfection.  <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Click here to see All of America's 40 Best Burgers</strong></a> <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>Credit: flickr/ TheGirlsNY</em></a>

  • 9) Cheeseburger, Gott's Roadside (San Francisco)

    Back in 2011, popular California hamburger stand Taylor's Automatic Refresher renamed its three locations (Napa, St. Helena, and San Francisco's Ferry Building) because its owners brothers Joel and Duncan Gott didn't own rights to the name, and couldn’t persuade its owners to let them trademark it. It may have been jarring to see the name change and the neon-lit red G, but what didn’t change when they adopted the family name Gott's Roadside Tray Gourmet were the storied grilled ⅓-pound Niman Ranch burgers. Cooked medium-well, but served "a little pink inside," topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and secret sauce on a toasted egg bun, Gott’s cheeseburger gets pressed lightly in a machine at the end of the line (employees say this steams the bun, but it still leaves the underside toasted-crunchy). The effect is thick and juicy. An icon. <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>Credit: Flickr/ Marshall Astor Food Fetishist</em></a>

  • 8) Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobcat Bite (Santa Fe, N.M.)

    Down the Old Las Vegas Highway (the original Route 66), the green chile cheeseburger joint Bobcat Bite, founded by Mitzi Panzer in 1953, has been hailed by Hamburger America's George Motz, Roadfood's Jane and Michael Stern, Food Network, and even Bon Appétit as not only the zenith of green chile cheeseburgers, but perhaps one of the greatest burgers period in the US of A. This 29-seat diner sitting atop a desolate, dusty dirt hill, was supposedly named after the local fauna that would ravage the garbage cans at night looking for leftovers. A recent dispute between the Panzer family and John and Bonnie Eckre, who took it over 12 years ago, means that there will now be two spots in the area claiming the heritage and expertise of what has become a legend. It remains to be seen which ("The Bite" or "Bobcat Bite") restaurant can lay claim to regulars’ and experts’ title as best green chile cheeseburger, but it’s clear that the restaurant’s ginormous house-ground, boneless chuck, 10-ounce burgers cooked to temperature preference and blanketed with green chiles under white American cheese on huge, ciabatta-like buns deserve a shout-out as one of the nation’s best burgers. <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>Credit: flickr/ strikeael</em></a>

  • 7) Half-Pound Niman Ranch Cheeseburger, Mustards Grill (Napa, Calif.)

    There's all kinds of good stuff on the menu at Cindy Pawlcyn's ever-popular wine country bistro (crispy calamari with curried slaw, seafood tostada, Mongolian pork chop…) but the cheeseburger (Maytag Blue is an optional choice, and one well worth making) is just so big and juicy and tasty that it's hard to resist. The house-made pickles and impeccable fries don't hurt, either. <em>Credit: Mustards Grill</em>

  • 6) Cheeseburger, Au Cheval (Chicago)

    Is the burger served at Chicago’s relative newcomer Au Cheval "the perfect griddle burger?" According to Bon Appétit, it is. Its beauty lies in its simplicity: two patties (or three if you order a double) of no-frills ground beef topped with Cheddar, Dijonnaise, a few thin slices of pickles, and served on a soft toasted bun from Chicago’s Z Baking. The patties are wonderfully crusty, the fries are fried in lard, and just about everything about this burger is perfect. <em>Credit: Au Cheval</em>

  • 5) Bacon Cheeseburger, The Little Owl (New York City)

    Chef Joey Campanaro knows his way around a burger, and the one that he serves at his West Village restaurant The Little Owl has been named the country’s best by Eatocracy and the world’s best by The Guardian. Campanaro starts with a ¾-inch-thick patty of ground Pat LaFrieda brisket and short rib, seasons it liberally with a curry powder-kicked spice blend, grills it, tops it with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion, and serves it on a homemade bun. It’s rich, meaty, hits all the right notes, and is a damn good burger. <em>Credit: Jon Selvey</em>

  • 4) Big Devil, Ray’s to the Third (Arlington, Va.)

    After the closure of Michael Landrum’s two D.C.-area locations of Ray’s Hell Burger, devotees despaired that they’d never again be able to enjoy these perfectly seared, ingeniously topped burgers. The third outpost, however, is still going strong, and thank goodness for that. Hand-trimmed, aged in-house, fresh-ground throughout the day, and hand-formed, these burgers, especially the original 10-ounce "Big Devil," are a sight to behold. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can top yours with seared foie gras or roasted bone marrow. <em>Credit: Yelp/ NorryH</em>

  • 3) Chargrilled Burger, The Spotted Pig (New York City)

    The burger at New York’s The Spotted Pig, a restaurant that is widely responsible for launching the high-end gastropub trend on this side of the pond, is a wonder. Chef April Bloomfield has created a half-pound behemoth of prime grilled beef, topped with a layer of creamy, stinky Roquefort, and sandwiched inside a brioche-style bun. It’s served alongside a mound of rosemary-scented shoestring fries, and is the kind of burger that will force you to close your eyes after taking the first bite and make sure all your dining companions know that they’re missing out.  <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>Credit: flickr/ Adam Kuban</em></a>

  • 2) Black Label Burger, Minetta Tavern (New York City)

    Sure, the côte de boeuf, roasted bone marrow, and various ungodly delicious potato renditions are big reasons why Minetta Tavern was called the city’s best steakhouse and awarded three stars by The New York Times. But no less the stuff of legend is chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson’s Black Label Burger. Prime dry-aged beef sourced and aged for six to seven weeks by Pat LaFrieda is well seasoned and cooked on a plancha with clarified butter, developing a glorious exterior. The fussed-over burger is nestled onto a sesame-studded brioche bun designed specifically for it, topped with caramelized onions and served with pommes frites. Juicy, funky, salty, soul-satisfying, these words lose meaning in the presence of a burger this good. Minetta is a bit of a scene, and it’s going to cost you $26, but if you consider yourself a lover and connoisseur of the country’s best burgers and you have yet to make this pilgrimage, you better get moving. <em>Credit: Sylvia Paret</em>

  • 1) Double Cheeseburger, Holeman & Finch Public House (Atlanta)

    Every night at 10 p.m. on the dot, 24 burgers emerge from the kitchen at Holeman & Finch Public House, and that’s it. Even though they’re not listed on the menu, these burgers are often spoken for well in advance (they can be reserved at any point during service), and for good reason. Each double-patty burger of fresh-ground grass-fed chuck and brisket comes topped with American cheese, pickles, onions, and homemade ketchup, and is served on a toasted house-baked bun alongside fresh-cut fries. Chef Linton Hopkins (who developed this burger while he was battling cancer; it’s the only food he didn’t lose his taste for) chose to offer this burger on such a limited basis in order to let the other items on his menu get their due, but if you’d prefer not to take your chances you can also try it on Sundays, when it’s featured on their brunch menu. We suggest it; it’s nothing short of the best burger in America. <a href="" target="_hplink"><em>Credit: flickr/ wallyg</em></a>