Whole Story

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Our Shrimp Standards

Shrimp Cocktail with Creamy-Spicy Green Onion Dipping SauceDid you know that the pilgrims ate shrimp and other seafood at the first Thanksgiving? So when the “day formerly known as turkey day” rolls around, we want you to know what sets our shrimp apart from the rest. Whether farm raised or wild caught, you can always appreciate what our shrimp has—and doesn’t have. Happy Shrimpsgiving!

Here’s the story on our farmed shrimp: Our seafood buyers have traveled to shrimp farms around the world to find producers that meet our strict standards for protecting the environment. From protecting sensitive ecosystems like mangrove forests to maintaining good water quality, our farmer partners are working hard to be the leaders in environmentally responsible aquaculture. We track our farm-raised shrimp from pond to processing to stores to make sure it comes from approved farms. To maintain the delicious flavor of shrimp and nothing else, ours are flash frozen within hours of harvest — without preservatives.

Some competitors may sell farmed shrimp cheaper, but it’s likely chemically treated. Make sure you look for the Responsibly Farmed label that indicates the shrimp has been farmed according to our strict Aquaculture Standards and third-party audited to ensure that the standards are being met. Here’s the story on our wild-caught shrimp: Like all of the wild-caught seafood in our fresh cases, our shrimp is either MSC-certified, or if it’s not certified it carries the color-coded sustainability status rankings by partnering organizations, Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

And you’ll be happy to know that our quality standards prohibit treating shrimp with preservatives so it’s simply sweet, tender wild-caught shrimp. So you’ve set the table for shrimp, so to speak. Whether you’re a shrimp savant or a new shrimp in the pond, it’s always nice to refresh yourself with tips on choosing and cooking shrimp:

  • Shrimp size is expressed in the format of count per pound. Weight is affected not just by length/girth, but also by whether or not shrimp is peeled or has the heads/tails on.
  • Fresh shrimp should be kept refrigerated and cooked within two days; frozen should be kept in a sealed bag for up to 60 days.
  • Boil shrimp for approximately 4 to 6 minutes (depending on size) until they turn pink and opaque. Do not overcook; they will become tough.
  • Grill shrimp for 3 or 4 minutes just until they turn pink. Smaller shrimp should be skewered so they don’t fall through grill grates.

Need more “shrimpspiration”? Why not mix it up this year and serve some of these shrimp appetizers to your hungry guests while they wait for the turkey to finish in the oven? Once they try our shrimp, don’t be surprised if they secretly hope the bird takes a little longer!

Will you be serving shrimp at your holiday table? How will you prepare it?

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70 comments

Comments

Rose says …

I find it a great bring-a-long to have a tray of shrimp - everyone loves it. I am awed by Whole Foods shrimp - I usually travel far to a fresh fish market and get rock shrimp, but after Whole Foods had a shrimp special recently and I tried them (I can't believe I hadn't before) - I'm now completely enthralled by the shrimp. A person should try them to see the difference, and also, I know they do not have STP and have been thoroughly researched by Whole Foods - a very good conversation starter to help bring other people into more consciousness about their food choices.

Karen says …

Do you carry or can you order U-8 count shrimp (giant collosal) for the Friday after Thanksgiving? Are they fresh?

Mariane says …

Shrimps, Being from Scandinavia Greenlandic shrimp are the best, have Whole Foods ever thought about carring Greenlandic shrimp? they are wild, no polution (if you can say that about any place in the world anymore). I shop the fish that I eat at Whole Foods and would LOVE to see greenlandic shrimp there, also Greenland is a small country and the fishermen and hunters are dying out because of the way human being live today ( fastfoods and such)- I'm sure that if Whole Foods would consider buying from Greenland that would be a positive thing for Greenland! Thank You I can't say enough good about Whole Foods!!

Nancy Schmiedecke says …

LOVE your Key West Key Lime shrimp. Bought the Key Lime Savory Oil but what else do I need? Please email recipe asap.....want to serve for Tgiving. Welcome to Carollwood. We are happy you are here!!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KAREN - Our products vary between store locations. I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see what they will have in stock! You can find their info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NANCY - Unfortunately we do not have a recipe online for those shrimp. If it was something made in your local store, I would reach out to them and if they have a recipe, they would be happy to provide it for you. Often, our creative team members whip up masterpieces in-house!

Myung says …

We cannot forget to look at the BYCATCH of shrimping. Apart from the preservatives and other factors affecting the shrimp we eat, the technique of how you catch your shrimp is very important. Most shrimping uses bottom trawls and other long lines which are causing massive habitat damage as well as the bycatch of sea turtles. Shrimping is one of the main causes of the decline of sea turtles. Please be aware of this when even considering to buy shrimp! Whole Foods does not say how they are catching their shrimp, I personally stay away from shrimp because of this factor. There are other seafood choices which do not decrease already declining mammals!

Carrie says …

Do you carry shrimp from the gulf of Mexico?

richardwbaron says …

Do you have Rock Shrimp in your store?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CARRIE & @RICHARDWBARON - Thanks for your comments. Since our products vary between locations, I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see which types of shrimp they carry. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Melody Paul says …

The shrimp and smoked salmon I buy for myself is always from WF. Incredible difference in taste from other stores I once considered "very good' for seafood. And maybe for others taste, it still is, as I said those seafood items I purchase for myself, always come for WF :-)

Gregory Treacy says …

Why Thailand and not US Shrimp? You should offer both options, plain and simple

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GREGORY - The location of our vendors will vary between store locations. Give your local store a call to see which countries they source their shrimp. Often times, there will be a few options!

Shelley Jones says …

I was shocked to see that you have shrimp and seafood from thailand, which is one of the worst places for clean and sustainable seafood...........................so I am confused!

ron says …

As far as shrimp are conserned i only buy usa wild caught

russell says …

I have been told that many asian shrimp farms raise chickens in cages above the shrimp farms allowing the feces to fall into the pond as feed for the shrimp ! Is there any truth to that statement ????

Lorraine Hill says …

I recently moved here from Olympia, WA where I enjoyed delicious fresh shrimp and crab Do you carry fresh shrimp and crab? So far, none of the stores I have visited has fresh. I live in Prior Lake and hope to visit the Edina Whole Foods store very soon.

Maggie says …

I know you don't use preservatives, but I'm not sure of what your processing techniques are...Are your frozen shrimp gluten free?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MAGGIE - The vendors for our frozen shrimp varies between regions/stores. Check with your local store to see if they have certified gluten free frozen shrimp.

Tiffany says …

I was surprised to see that you carry shrimp from Thailand shrimp farms. Have your farmer partners been investigated to see if they are taking actions to operate sustainably and prevent harm to the fishing cats?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TIFFANY - Absolutely, our supplier partners must pass annual independent third-party audits to ensure that our standards are being met. Only farms that pass their annual audits may sell their farmed seafood to Whole Foods Market.

debbie says …

I'm trying to understand what i've been reading. Do you carry both farmed raised and wild caught shrimp? If you do carry both is it clearly marked on the package? Why anyone would eat anything farmed raised, especially in countries who will consume anything, is beyond my compression. You'd think we'd have higher expectations with our food than the ever evil dollar bill. Just curious, before i come to check out your seafood selection, the words farms and ponds kind of gross me out. Not natural!

Jim B says …

One question before I try these. I use shrimp in recipes like Shrimp Thermidor. I have always used precooked, but after adding to sauce and cooking more, they can be tough. SO, if I boil raw shrimp, should I add seasoning, like shrimp boil, to get them some taste. Shrimp seem hard to infuse the sauce taste.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JIM - I would suggest adding some seasoning for extra flavor. A team member in Seafood should be able to help you out!

Jenn says …

For those of you who say "I only eat USA Wild Caught shrimp", etc. is that most wild caught shrimp are the exact opposite of ecologically friendly fishing practices. The trawls shrimpers use to catch shrimp from the ocean floor also catch every fish, reptile and mammal in the way. This pracitce kills thousands of sea turtles, dolphins, whales and other sea creatures who tend to die before being safely released. Many shrimp farms are EXTREMELY polluting and environmentally hazardous to the bodies of water surrounding them. If aquaculture is able to bypass these major environmental issues in farming shrimp, I may actually start eating shrimp again!

Carol L. Nesbit says …

Your Manhasset, NY store doesn't seem to carry Key West Wild Caught frozen shrimp anymore. Why not?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CAROL - Our buying is done at the store/regional level. I would check with the seafood department directly to see where this went.

Sandra says …

How does Whole Foods define "fresh shrimp" vs frozen shrimp?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SANDRA - Typically it will be the difference between how they are served in the store, either you will buy them fresh or frozen. This is just how it is sold in the store as if something is listed as fresh, it is possible that it was previously frozen and the label should state if it has been, or you can always ask a seafood team member for help.

Edward says …

The last time I purchased shrimp from Whole Foods it was from Florida (I assume from the Gulf). Recently, I have read reports that the oil spill and subsequent chemical dispersant has contaminated almost all of the seafood from the Gulf. What criteria does Whole Foods use to determine that the shrimp you sell from the Gulf is safe to eat. Thank you.

Dorothy Wright says …

I would like to know the sodium content of your shrimp. I was going to buy crab legs there. The associate reassured me that salt is not added to crab legs after they are caught. To prove it, he went in the back and got the box they came in. The side of the box had content = crab legs and salt. So of course I did not buy them. I am on a strict low sodium diet and high sodium can be detrimental to me. Please help.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@EDWARD - At this time, no official warnings have been issued by government or environmental groups on the safety of Gulf seafood. Our Seafood team and our seafood suppliers closely follow recommendations from scientists and government agencies monitoring the issue to know what’s safe. You can always talk with our expert fishmongers to discover the high-quality alternatives we offer from a variety of regions.

Mansa70 says …

I bought a pound of wild caught ez peel shrimp today from whole foods. It had a strong chlorine smell.. After washing several times and cooking , took couple of bites, couldn't handle the smell, threw everything out. Really worried what those few bites is going to do to our stomachs.. I called the store immediately reported it to the manager, he was nice enough to offer me my money back and said that he will look into this matter immediately.. After all this I googled this "chlorine smell in shrimp" - got mixed reviews and totally confused. Some of the info I found was : 1. Some stores have a practice of rinsing seafood in mild bleach solution to kill the bacteria before freezing which is acceptable? 2. When shrimp rots the outer layer breaks down and gives out this chlorine or ammonia like smell. I am sure it didn't smell like ammonia or rotten eggs.. But this experience has shaken our trust in whole foods with all the other labelings.. I've been a loyal customer for a very looong time, from the time it was wild oats.. Trusted WF with all our grocery needs..

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MANSA70 - So sorry to hear about this. Was the store able to get in touch with you after they investigated this?

Scott says …

You have mentioned, some of your shrimp comes from Thailand, please see the following video : http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2014/jun/10/slavery-supermarket-supply-trail-prawns-video

Ruby says …

The frozen Key West shrimp seems no longer available at least in the DC/MD area. Shrimp is from Thailand in frozen section. Why?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SCOTT - We take a zero tolerance approach to human rights violations anywhere in our supply chain, and our suppliers sign a contract to uphold that standard. We have suspended our business with CP Food Products until they are able to provide us with substantiation that human rights violations have not occurred in their supply chain.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RUBY - Since our exact product options differ between stores, I would suggest checking with the store Seafood team directly to see if they expect more from Key West any time soon.

Sharon Davis says …

I make nearly daily trips to my local WF to buy seafood and meat. I wanted to purchase your market brand frozen cooked shrimp, but no where on the packaging was there a certification of the standards listed in this article so I passed on that purchase. Where are the standards listed on the packaging? Also, there is never any wild-caught shrimp available-- why is that?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SHARON - Our color rating system currently only applies to our wild-caught seafood in our case, not for packaged frozen items. It should say on the package if the shrimp is wild caught or farm raised. If you're looking for fresh wild-caught shrimp at your local store, I would suggest speaking with the Seafood team directly so they can let you know when/if they plan to get some in stock.

John Williamson says …

Does Whole Foods supervise the shrimp feed (ShrimpChow?) to make sure that no animal byproducts are fed to the shrimp? Does Whole Foods have lists of what the farmed shrimp are fed? Thank you.

Rena says …

Do you sell wild caught shrimp in NYC ?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOHN - We do conduct 3rd party audits for our farmed fish. You can always check with your local store to find out what type of feed is used for the specific shrimp at your store. You can also find detailed info on our standards at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/seafood-sustainability/aquaculture.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RENA - Our exact product options will vary between stores. Check with the specific store you plan to shop with in New York to see what they have in stock!

Ms. M S Williams says …

What are you responsibly farm raised shrimp fed? Are they screened, tested and/ or shielded from assimilating toxic heavy metals and other common toxins? What is the process of your farm raising them? I am very toxic and used to eat shrimp all the time (they were my favorite seafood) until I learned of how toxic they were. It would be nice to eat some now that are actually good for you and not just good to you. Please be honest in your response. I have been extremely ill with heavy metal toxicity for ten years and am still toxic and detoxing and have been poisoned three times --Want some shrimp, but not if they are bad for MY health.. Thank you. I look forward to your response very promptly.

Pat says …

I am sorry to say that I don't want to pay the price Whole Foods charges for shrimp farmed in Vietnam. I would prefer wild caught US shrimp. Wonder why you don't carry it? I bought shrimp yesterday at whole foods and threw it out after researching where it came from. In my opinion, it is not as tasty and really sad that a store of your reputation resorts to foreign caught fish and shrimp. Responsibly farmed, does mean to me, that it is safe. I will not purchase in the future.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MS.WILLIAMS - You can find detailed info about our farmed shrimp at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/seafood-sustainability/aquaculture. Our standards prohibit the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones and poultry and mammalian by-products in feed.

Judy Gronemeyer says …

Is the shrimp you sell from the USA ? Please tell me where you get your farmed shrimp from

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JUDY - The country of origin will differ between stores. Check with your local store to see where their farmed shrimp comes from. It will also be posted on the signage in store.

Kim says …

How does GMO feed factor into your farmed shrimp standards? Are the shrimp fed any GMO foods like soy or corn?

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