February 3, 2011
AUSTIN, TexasWhole Foods Market Inc. launched a color-coded 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system for beef, pork and chicken cuts carried in the fresh and pre-packaged cases. The new system will be available in all stores by May 9, 2011, and provides shoppers with a new level of transparency about how farm animals are raised.
The program was created by the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit 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.
More than 1,200 farms and ranches providing the companys 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 the step ratings.
With an overarching goal to continuously improve the lives of farm animals, Global Animal Partnerships 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, Whole Foods Market 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."
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