Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A&W executive walks into lion’s den

Trish Sahlstrom, vice-president of purchasing and distribution for A&W, walked into the lion’s den of farmers attending the annual meeting of Manitoba Beef Producers this week, defending the chain’s decision to reject beef raised with the help of antibiotics, steroids and hormones.

“In recent years the beef industry has been inundated with bad-news stories and we find consumers reluctant to choose beef,” she told the farmers.

“When asked what was important when choosing beef, the top three consumer responses were no hormones, no steroids and no antibiotics.”

And so A&W made its decision based on consumer preferences with no regard for the science establishing the safety and efficacy of using hormones, steroids and antibiotics.

Sahlstrom participated in a panel discussion and fielded some tough questions, reports Jennifer Paige of the Manitoba Cooperator.

Provincial politician and beef farmer Cliff Graydon said “I would hope this is a matter of being misinformed and that you are not knowingly putting the entire industry at risk for financial gain.”

“I feel that as a corporate citizen you should educate consumers that not everything is bad for them,” Graydon said.

A&W launched its ‘Better Beef’ campaign in September, 2013, promising clients that the beef served would have no hormones or steroids, and antibiotics would be administered for therapeutic use only.

A&W has 790 restaurants, ranking it second among Canadian hamburger chains.

For more on public opinions about farming, see the next two items.