The fast food burger fall into its own category. The idea of low expectations is an understatement. Quality in a fast food burger feels like an oxymoron.
A&W in Canada is attempting to break through that stereotype in a new ad campaign, pointing out that its burgers contain no added hormones or steroids.
That sounds good. Really good. But how good are we talking?
The A&W FAQ mentions that the beef "comes from ranchers who are committed to being leaders in sustainable production." Sounds promising, but let's break that down.
Let's be clear. No added hormones, no steroids is way better than fast food companies not making this claim. After all, if that were true of other fast food burgers, wouldn't they do what A&W is doing?
The key word left out from the ad is "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.
Other stories mention the term "medicated feed additives," which appear to be unnecessary antibiotics. So A&W beef doesn't have medicated feed additives, but may contain antibiotics devoted to health.
Is the A&W beef grass-fed? Again, from A&W:
All of our cattle are fed a fully vegetarian diet. Typically, our cattle enjoy a mix of different grains and grass.
So the answer to grass-fed is "no."
The A&W beef has no added hormones and no steroids, antibiotics, but only for health, and has some element of grains in their cow's diet. This may or may not be enough to switch to A&W burgers if you have that choice, but at least you know what is happening.
This policy only applies to A&W in Canada. The companies are run separately, and the claims only apply to A&W restaurants in Canada.
While I see them all over the place in Canada, I haven't reached into my pocket to buy their food. My memory of A&W from the 1970s (yes, I'm that old) was that the root beer was the best part of the experience. I wouldn't rely on that for future purchases, but I admit that the next time it's convenient, I might try an A&W burger.
I know the burger wouldn't meet the standards of the local farmers market, but is a lot closer to that goal than any large-chain fast food burger in North America. I might be tempted to add a root beer … if it weren't for glucose-fructose.