Whole Foods helps customers know their meat

AUSTIN, Texas -- Whole Foods announced that it is providing shoppers with a new level of transparency about how farm animals are raised by now offering beef, pork and chicken certified under 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system.

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 as follows: 

  • 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, Whole Foods reported. Color-coded signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these ratings.

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.

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