09/25/2013 05:26 EDT | Updated 09/26/2013 05:29 EDT

A&W: Hormones, Steroids, Preservatives Gone From Our Beef


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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