Whole Foods Market this week rolled out a 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program that grades pork, beef and chicken products according to how farm animals are bred and reared.
The animal-welfare rating system, developed by Global Animal Partnership, aims to help shoppers learn more about the origin of meat and poultry products and make more informed choices.
From the press release: The rating system is the signature program of 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, no cages, no 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. For shoppers, the rating system provides a way to make more informed choices at the meat counter.
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
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 ratings.
All meat sold at Whole Foods Market 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.
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 following video outlines how Whole Foods has evolved from "all natural" labels to GAP's 5-step rating system for humane handling: