Saturday, February 5, 2011

Whole Foods implements new animal-welfare rating system - By Brian Gaar

Whole Foods Market Inc. is implementing a new animal welfare rating system for its meats and other livestock products that officials say will help improve the lives of farm animals.

The five-step rating system, enacted in coordination with the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, uses a tiered system starting at step 1 (animals aren't kept in cages, crates or crowded) to the highest tier, where animals spend their entire lives on the same farm. Color-coded tags will let shoppers know how various products are rated.

Officials say the system will help shoppers make more informed choices while rewarding producers who have made strides on animal welfare.

"Everybody is encouraged to really embrace continuous improvement in animal agriculture, which is really the singular aim of the Global Animal Partnership," said Miyun Park , the group's executive director.

Whole Foods founder John Mackey serves on the board of the nonprofit group, which is made up of farmers, retailers, scientists and animal rights groups to promote animal welfare.

The group developed the ratings system and worked on a pilot ratings program with Whole Foods over the last two years.

Park said that she's having conversations with other retailers about the ratings system.

The natural foods grocer has its own standards requiring that suppliers humanely treat the animals that later end up on dinner tables. For instance, suppliers cannot trim the beaks of chickens, and pigs must be allowed to root freely. But "our customers have long been asking for information on the raising practices on the farms and ranches that provide products to our stores," President and Chief Operating Officer A.C. Gallo said in a release. He called it "one of the single most impactful programs" the company has ever implemented.

Officials said it's a new level of transparency for the natural foods grocer.

"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 , Whole Foods global animal production and welfare coordinator.

All fresh and pre-packaged beef, pork and chicken will be rated by May 9, Whole Foods officials said. And while the grocer is starting with those meat groups (which make up a majority of sales), eventually all of Whole Foods meats will be rated under the new system, said Steve Hellmann , meat coordinator for the grocer's southwest region.

"Our goal is to affect as many farm animal lives as possible," Hellmann said.

Original story here

1. There is no such thing as HUMANE SLAUGHTER (oxymoron ?)

2. Instead of a color coded system, they should have a picture of the animal that is in the package, on the package, with a hologram that shows the animal alive, then dead.

3. The website states "By choosing to support higher welfare farmers and ranchers, we can collectively make a significant difference in the lives of billions of animals." - 

The only thing that can make a significant difference in the lives of animals is to not USE them at all.   Oh, and GO VEGAN!


  1. Hello Michael, I'm a fellow animal advocate and writer who just wants to say HELLO and THANKS for all you do to help get the word out. I have a blog on my website ( and am writing a novel that celebrates the amazing maternal bond between mother cows and their young. Keep up the good work!

  2. Bren,

    Thanks so much for checking out my blog and for also helping our animal friends! I will check out your website! Thanks!!!


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