Whole Foods Market Inc. has implemented a ratings system aimed at promoting animal welfare and informing consumers how the grocery chain’s beef, chicken and pork is produced.
The system uses color-coded signs and stickers in Whole Foods’ meat department, providing “a new level of transparency about how farm animals are raised,” the Austin, Tex.-based company said in a Feb. 2 statement.
A step 1 rating, for example, indicates the animal was not raised in a cage or crate, while a step 4 rating signifies a “pasture-centered” operation. A step 5-plus is the most “animal-centered” rating, meaning animals spent their entire lives on one farm.
Designed by the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, the system is part of an “overarching goal” to continuously improve the lives of farm animals, said A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods’ chief operating officer.
“Our customers have long been asking for information on the raising practices on the farms and ranches that provide products to our stores,” Gallo said in the statement. The ratings system “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 that supply Whole Foods’ 291 U.S. locations have received step certification through independent, third-party certifiers, the company said.
Whole Foods already requires meat sold in its store be from animals raised on a vegetarian diet and without antibiotics or added growth hormones.