Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Animal Welfare and Our Meat Department

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, May 13, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

ChickensI’m increasingly aware about my purchases at the meat counter. As a mother of two little ones, I’m concerned with how the animal was raised and what added hormones or antibiotics it was given (or better yet, what it wasn’t given).

Why buy meat from Whole Foods Market?

Whole Foods Market’s meat departments are stocked with only meat and poultry from farmers and ranchers dedicated to meeting strict standards, including:

  • no animal byproducts in the animal's feed
  • no added hormones*
  • no growth-enhancing drugs
  • no antibiotics, ever

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork, poultry, goats, veal and bison.

These standards consider the animals:

  • how the animal was raised
  • what it ate
  • where it came from

Why animal welfare matters

5-Step Animal Welfare RatingAll the beef, chicken, pork and turkey in Whole Foods Market’s fresh meat cases in the US and Canada come from producers who have achieved certification to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating.

At Step 1, the first level in the program farmers and ranchers must focus intently on the welfare of their animals and meet approximately 100 species-specific standards. This first step is a clear departure from conventional animal agricultural practices. This certification is the clearest way for you to know how the animals were raised for the meat you’re buying.

It’s simple. Dedication to animal welfare at farms and ranches + quality standards and transparency in stores = informed choices about the meat you eat.

Want to know more? Dig deeper at wholefoodsmarket.com/animalwelfare.

What’s important to you when shopping for meat and poultry?

Blog Updated on 2/19/2015.

Category: Meat, Animal Welfare




De says ...
Whole Foods is the way to go! Good luck Kroger and Wal-Mart on your customer satisfaction, people will be leaving you soon!
05/13/2013 5:30:04 AM CDT
Jackie says ...
Whole foods, I'm curious how, specifically, animal welfare is guaranteed for these animals. As specific as possible please. You provide no details or evidence in this blog item...
05/14/2013 7:08:32 PM CDT
Fran Williams says ...
This is great. Will shop in your stores more often.
05/14/2013 10:48:12 PM CDT
John C. Campbell III says ...
With all this tracking about animal welfare, etc. , it seems you could include a GMO-free tag (animals not fed GMO corn, etc).
05/15/2013 4:28:54 PM CDT
Charles says ...
are your fresh meats considered gluten free?
05/15/2013 4:49:32 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JACKIE - You can read more specifics about our Animal Welfare standards at http://wholefoodsmarket.com/animalwelfare.
05/15/2013 4:56:43 PM CDT
Hank says ...
Are your meat and poultry products better/safer than the same products at Sprouts Markets? I'm asking this because they(Sprouts) claim that their meat/poultry products are also all natural. Just curious....
05/15/2013 5:42:21 PM CDT
Patti says ...
How do we know the meats are also free of GMO's?
05/15/2013 5:59:03 PM CDT
Kathy Katsarelis says ...
I will only purchase meat from Whole Foods because I know that I am buying the healthiest, safest product on the market. It is important to me to consume meat that does not have any additives. I will never buy meat that is prepackaged at an industrial plant. I love how it is posted at the meat counter when my ground beef has been ground. You absolutely cannot get grass fed ground beef any fresher or of higher quality. I feel comforted with the total transparency Whole Foods conducts its business. I find Whole Foods prices to be in line with the industry. One cannot put a price tag on peace of mind or one’s health in making a decision as to where one does his/her grocery shopping. My husband is on a transplant list so nutrition is extremely important. I do not want to introduce any known carcinogens, i.e., pesticides, nitrates, to his diet. I have always been conscious of the quality of food I consume. When the term organic was first bantered about I was on-board. I sought out organic in the early days before Whole Foods. Whole Foods is my Nirvana. When I travel out of the area I always seek out a Whole Foods. It always amazes me how people on the east coast accept prepackaged vegetables. I could not live without a Whole Foods store.
05/15/2013 6:12:20 PM CDT
Kris says ...
We have tried to 'save a buck' and buy meats from our local supermarket, but we always go back to Whole Foods. The flavor is incomparable!
05/15/2013 6:16:49 PM CDT
Gill says ...
This 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating is new to me, so maybe someone can answer: how do we know where the meat is ranked based on the animal it came from? Sure Step 1 may be a "great accomplishment" compared to the rest of the meat industry, but what if that's not acceptable for some consumers? How do we find the meat that made it to Step 5+?
05/15/2013 6:55:26 PM CDT
Stan Yarkin says ...
What about cheese and other dairy?
05/15/2013 7:23:30 PM CDT
Zenobia Hampton says ...
I trust what whole foods says.. Any additional details may have been excessive as they already majorly dumbed down the massive details that this five step animal welfare rating encompasses for the purpose, I imagine, of making the information digestible comprehensible food for the masses.. whole foods market is all over the airwaves, could you imagine the legal backlash if they were making up these regulations? Maintaining and regulating these standards is costly hence the slightly higher price.. you are totally asking the wrong questions.. you should be wondering why this isn't the norm across the board.. Thank you whole foods market for educating us where these other wealthy corporations strive to keep us ignorant!
05/15/2013 7:26:25 PM CDT
Barbara Clarke says ...
I'm 77 and not as concerned about the products added to the animals/their foods. HOWEVER, I AM EXTREMELY CONCERNED FOR THE WELFARE OF THE ANIMALS. SUPPORTING AND BUYING ONLY FROM PRODUCERS THAT ABIDE BY SUPERIOR STANDARDS ENCOURAGES THIS TREATMENT FOR ALL ANIMALS. Thank you, Whole Foods. I only buy my meat from you!
05/15/2013 7:29:51 PM CDT
edna london says ...
Yes, but they are loaded with GMOs...GMOs cause tumors, cancer and all kinds of illness, get them out of your store.
05/15/2013 7:50:42 PM CDT
Joyce Anderson says ...
Does your meat conctain preservetives such as sulfites?
05/15/2013 7:51:30 PM CDT
Cathy Stevens says ...
Thank you! Sometimes it feels as if the family has to fight on all sides to survive. Thank you for helping us have a place to feel we don't need to do battle on.
05/15/2013 8:00:37 PM CDT
Silvia says ...
I wish Whole Foods sold organic meats, not only poultry. Animal welfare is important but not enough
05/15/2013 8:44:09 PM CDT
Susan Cooper says ...
I know how they are raised, which is important. I would like to know how they are killed? Is is at a local slaughterhouse? Are the animals transported great distances? Are they killed with other animals from factory hellhouses?
05/15/2013 8:58:49 PM CDT
Selah says ...
Whole Foods has provided my family with quality meat and dairy products at a fair and market rate price. Thank you for your commitment to standards.
05/15/2013 9:07:50 PM CDT
Judy M says ...
Whole Foods: I shop at WF frequently. I give you credit for the 1-5 (5 being best deal for the animal) scoring system you provide at the meat counter as to how the animals are raised prior to "market". However I am not sure, when shopping at WF, which of the meats and and chickens fall into the "1" or the "5" category; because the items are not specifically identified. So I would really like to better understand WFs policies and practices regarding their animal welfare practices in detail for the product I am buying that day. Not just in general
05/15/2013 9:19:40 PM CDT
Goethy Revollo says ...
If the chicken or beef is not labeled organic, should I assume that it was fed GMO corn?
05/15/2013 10:18:46 PM CDT
Lori says ...
Agreed. With the Ag Gag laws in effect in states including my own, Iowa, I am curious how you know how your meat was 'humanely' raised? The selection I've seen in this state offers very little that reaches your top level for most humanely raised.
05/16/2013 6:09:52 AM CDT
Laurie says ...
I'm curious abt the chickens. Are they fed corn? I'm trying to stay away from all things Monsanto and have found most of the free range chickens are finished on grain with corn in it.
05/16/2013 6:25:32 AM CDT
Tracy says ...
But if the meat is not organic they still eat GMO feed right? Will that be labeled when Whole Foods switches to labeling GMO?
05/16/2013 6:41:48 AM CDT