Whole Foods now selling friendlier meat

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market announced that all fresh beef, pork and chicken sold in its U.S. stores is now certified under the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system.

According to Whole Foods, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system, the signature program of the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, is designed to help address growing public concern about animal welfare. The rating system identifies incrementally higher welfare practices and conditions within farm animal production systems. Independent third-party certifiers audit and rate farms' 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).

Whole Foods Market said it is the first retailer to adopt the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system. With the goal of improving the lives of farm animals, the company began rolling out the system in February. Now, all fresh beef, pork and chicken sold in its U.S. stores meat departments carry a Step certification. To date, more than 1,300 farms and ranches have been certified, which means that approximately 140 million farm animals are raised in welfare-focused environments. Signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these Step ratings.

"Whole Foods Market has worked hand-in-hand with our producers for many years to encourage a humane approach to raising animals. Now, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system provides a way to engage and reward these producers by promoting continuous improvement in farm animal welfare," said Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods Market. "This rating system also informs our customers about how the animals are raised for the meat they are buying."