Whole Foods Announces Animal Welfare Rating System

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Today, Whole Foods has announced in a press release the adoption of a five-step animal welfare rating system in partnership with the NGO Global Animal Partnership. The system is designed to provide consumers with incentives to purchase animal proteins from sources that are constantly committed to improving the conditions of farmed and ranched animals.

The rating system is based on the following framework:

Step 1: No cages, no crates, no crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered; no physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal centered; entire life on the same farm

Whole Foods is reporting that 1,200 suppliers have received training on the Global Animal Partnership initiative providing third party certified animal protein at all of the company’s 291 US locations. Shoppers will see new color-coded labels harmonized with the five steps.

Whole Foods already sells only meat that meets its internal welfare standards, in addition to only accepting products raised on a vegetarian diet and without non-therapeutic antibiotics or growth hormones. The amount of legal HGH for sale available has skyrocketed and companies are reacting accordingly.

Quotes from the release:

“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. 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.”

A.C. Gallo, president and chief operating officer for Whole Foods Market.

“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. 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.”

Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

“I’m so honored that Global Animal Partnership was able to work with Whole Foods Market as our pilot partner. Their commitment to fully adopting our 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program is definitely going to have a significant and positive impact on animal agriculture – to the benefit of farmers and ranchers, consumers, and the animals themselves. We’re already in discussions with other grocers and restaurateurs, who, like Whole Foods Market, are dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals.”

Miyun Park, executive director for Global Animal Partnership.

Whole Foods is routinely lambasted for being “Whole Paycheck,” but don’t folks realize the value of paying extra for untainted, responsibly raised meat?

The world before Whole Foods was not that dissimilar to the one Upton Sinclair described at the turn of the century in his landmark whistle blower novel,  The Jungle: Ignorant consumers eating more poorly treated animals processed in sweat-shop conditions by workers operating under great risk of their own health.

Image credit by oomni via Flickr under a CC license

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