Animal welfare is an important issue to Tim Hortons and all our stakeholders, including our Restaurant Owners, suppliers, investors and guests. We consider animal welfare to apply to all aspects of animal care of the farm animals within our supply chain. While some of our food products are derived from farm animals, we are not directly involved in the raising, handling, transportation or processing of these animals.
We have an Animal Welfare Policy and program in place that is integrated within our Sustainability and Responsibility framework. We believe that animal welfare is a key component of a sustainable supply chain and is equally important as issues such as food safety/security, transparency, environmental management and economic viability. These factors should all work in harmony; if too much emphasis is placed on one, then the others will be out of balance.
We continue to engage with our suppliers, government and industry animal welfare groups to understand current science-based research and best practices. In 2012, we toured alternative egg and pork farms, in both Canada and the U.S., and participated in meetings and roundtable discussions that included many farmers and producers. These activities helped us continuously improve our animal welfare program, and update our animal welfare commitments.
It is our expectation that all our business partners and suppliers meet or exceed the established government regulations, standards and recognized industry guidelines for animal welfare.
Our business partners and suppliers who have direct control over the care of animals are required to have practices that are based on optimizing the animal's needs to ensure the best treatment, care and well-being of the animals. They must humanely treat their animals with skilled and responsible animal handling at all stages of the animal's life, and ensure that each animal gets the care it needs, when it needs it. The industry common codes of practice for animal welfare do not tolerate ill-treatment, violence, neglect or abuse of any animal.
We have a comprehensive quality assurance audit program in place that includes food safety and animal welfare issues. We audit our suppliers to ensure that they meet or exceed established government regulations and recognized industry guidelines. We employ internal auditors and quality assurance professionals certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
We believe that our Animal Welfare Policy and programs should be developed based upon current scientific opinion, advice from recognized animal welfare experts, our suppliers and other stakeholders. We have a formal animal welfare working group that is made up of professionals from across our company. Our working group's role is to maintain a focus on continuous improvement with respect to animal welfare issues that affect the industry and our Company.
We monitor and review science-based research on animal welfare practices, educate our employees, tour farms and processing facilities with our suppliers and engage in dialogue with our stakeholders - including individual farmers who are directly responsible for the care of their animals.
We acknowledge that for our animal welfare program to be successful, procedures, standards and best practices need to be integrated across our business. We need to collaborate with government and industry animal welfare groups to promote research and continuous improvement across the industry and supply chain. This includes encouraging the use of emerging and alternative practices after validation by suppliers and the industry. We are currently involved in the following industry working groups/committees:
We are committed to achieving meaningful and sustainable progress on animal welfare in a way that reflects the Company's and our guests' values.
1 - Enriched hen housing systems allow for natural hen behaviours such as nesting, scratching and perching, and similar housing systems are already the standard in the European Union.
2 - Currently, it is estimated that 97 per cent of egg-laying hens in North America are housed in non-enriched cages. It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of breeding sows in the U.S. are housed in gestation crates, while estimates are unknown for Canada as the pork industry has been downsizing over the last number of years.