Whole Foods Pilots Stringent Animal Welfare Code for Fresh Meats
February 10, 2011
Whole Foods Market is providing shoppers with a new level of transparency about how farm animals are raised by offering beef, pork and chicken certified under a new 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system.
The grocer is piloting the rating system, which is the signature program of Global Animal Partnership, a non-profit organization that facilitates and encourages continuous improvement in animal agriculture.
Independent, third-party certifiers audit farms and rate animal welfare practices and conditions using a tiered system that ranges from Step 1 (no crates, cages or crowding) to Step 5+ (animals spend their entire lives on one farm). The system provides a way to engage and reward producers by promoting continuous improvement in farm animal welfare, and it gives shoppers a way to make more informed choices at the meat counter, the company said in a statement.
All meat sold at Whole Foods Market – private label and other brands -- must meet the company’s strict quality standards, which require that animals be raised on a vegetarian diet without being administered antibiotics or added growth hormones. Federal regulations already prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry.
Step-rated options are now available at all U.S. Whole Foods Market stores and by May 9, all beef, pork and chicken carried in the fresh and pre-packaged cases will be rated according to 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating standards. Additional species will be rated as Global Animal Partnership standards are completed.
The company also posted the You Tube video belwo on its web site, explaining the program.
“With an overarching goal to continuously improve the lives of farm animals, Global Animal Partnership’s 5- Step Animal Welfare Rating system is one of the single most impactful programs we have implemented to date at Whole Foods Market,” said A.C. Gallo, president and COO. “Our customers have long been asking for information on the raising practices on the farms and ranches that provide products to our stores. We are proud to adopt this new rating system that helps shoppers make even more informed buying decisions while offering them peace of mind that the animals from our producers are raised with care.”
More than 1,200 farms and ranches providing the company’s 291 U.S. locations with products have received Step certification through independent, third party certifiers. Color-coded signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these Step ratings.
“In my 20 years of working with ranchers and farmers, this is the largest commitment to improving farm animal welfare that I have seen. Producers need to meet approximately 100 requirements to get a Step 1 certification, so achieving the first level is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “Whole Foods Market is able to adopt the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system thanks to the true partnerships we have with our producers who put just as much emphasis on the lives of their farm animals as they do on ensuring high-quality products.”
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