Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

 

91 Comments

Comments

fred schwartz says ...
You are doing a good public service. My long term gripe is that certain corp powers have taken away our freedom, our right to know. GMO's, irradiated foods and hormones in dairy products do not require labeling. Thanks
06/11/2009 7:18:36 PM CDT
Susan Hurta says ...
This is why I have been a Whole Foods shopper for almost 30 years!!!! My husband and I once got stuck behind a Tyson chicken truck on a one lane crooked road in Arkansas.....What I saw in the truck made me vow never to buy Tyson chicken in my life! Thank you Whole Foods....I am confident my family will have healthier, longer lives due to your existence!
06/11/2009 11:15:25 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@ Mim The USDA Organic Standards are scale-neutral and are applied equally to all organic producers regardless of size. We feel that regardless of size, organic is always a better choice for the environment, and is one way to avoid genetically engineered ingredients. We feel strongly about working with local producers in our communities. We choose local and regionally grown and produced products whenever possible. Purchasing locally produced products contributes to the success of local growers and food producers and the local economy. In addition to our focus on buying locally, we have budgeted $10 million for our Local Producer Loan Program http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/locallygrown/index.html, which gives low interest loans to local producers. That said, due to seasonal and regional variables, we are unable to rely solely on small, local producers to fill our shelves. However, if you prefer to buy locally grown or produced products, ask a team member to tell you about some of the local products and producers featured at your local store the next time you shop. By closely managing the seed, source, and processing of ingredients in our products, Whole Foods Market works diligently to avoid genetically engineered ingredients in our store brand products. Many of the raw ingredients for our products are sourced on the commodity market and may come from different sources depending on the time of manufacture. For that reason we are unable to answer specific questions about where the corn in our 365 Organic corn tortillas and white corn tortilla chips is grown. However, shopping for certified organic products provides an additional layer of assurance to those shoppers who wish to avoid GMOs. As mandated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards, products labeled as organic cannot be grown from genetically engineered seed or made with genetically engineered ingredients. Compliance with this policy is overseen by a USDA accredited organic certifier. We are deeply committed to raising awareness of the issue around GMOs in our food supply. Keep an eye on our blog for updates about the work we’re doing.
06/10/2009 4:11:07 PM CDT
Chicago Jim says ...
Rachael at Whole Foods: I'm a big proponent of Factchecker.org which debunks both democratic and republican propoganda. I'm a bit of a nuisance in that I like to get to the truth. Much of your piece was dedicated to the part of film that characterized the seed cleaner as being wronged by Monsanto. It looks like a Monsanto guy is calling that nonsense. Can you please respond directly to his challenge and the specific facts that he's raised. Thanks
06/12/2009 11:12:48 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
While there is sure to be much debate about the information provided in Food, Inc. we’ll leave it to the movie’s producers and Monsanto to continue that discussion. We certainly aren’t the experts on everything said in the film, but we’ll be glad to provide answers to questions raised about the food that we sell in our stores.
06/12/2009 11:44:31 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Alan Fulte There are many ways to shop on a budget at Whole Foods Market. Buying fresh produce when it is in season, shopping our 365 Organic packaged products, buying family packs in our meat and seafood departments, and filling out meals with whole grains and beans, are just a few of the ways our customers have told us they save money at our stores. It is true that high fructose corn syrup and refined unbleached flour are ingredients that are acceptable in products at Whole Foods Market. However we have a number of alternatives to those ingredients in products at our stores and our 365 Everyday Value and 365 Organic products are formulated without high fructose corn syrup. You don’t have to break the bank to eat well at Whole Foods Market.
06/10/2009 4:55:19 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@shelle The merger of Wild Oats and Whole Foods Market has created the advantage of increased buying power, allowing us to offer lower prices to our customers in all or our stores. To give you a specific example, when our merger happened in 2007, our Rocky Mountain region was able to lower prices on 80 percent of their inventory as a result of the merger. We understand that many of our shoppers seek eggs and meat from chickens raised under more clearly defined conditions, and we encourage those shoppers to choose organic eggs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards, all organic livestock are required to have access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, and direct sunlight suitable to the species, the climate, and the environment. All organic producers are certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent.
06/11/2009 9:21:39 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Mike E. Perez We understand that problems like obesity don’t discriminate, which is why we align ourselves with community organizations that reach well beyond the immediate communities where we have stores. For example, we work with Marathon Kids , a free program that teaches kids in grades K-5 daily exercise and good nutrition.
06/11/2009 11:44:01 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
@jack szanto The difficulty in providing Certified Organic Prepared Foods lies in the level of oversight required by the USDA for organic food processing. The level of oversight required is so great that it would be incredibly difficult to achieve in a retail setting. Some ingredients in our prepared foods are organic, but the USDA standards require processor certification to call the finished product “organic.”
06/11/2009 4:11:22 PM CDT
Mary Broussard says ...
Amen!!!! I've been looking into GMO's for about the last 6 months and needless to say, my grocery bill has gone WAY down because I refuse to buy the garbage that is marketed toward me, a mom of a large family. I'd rather pay more and know the food I eat is from a wholesome source. I'm in my 40's and run marathons & take the best care of my family that I can. That starts with nutrition. I always preach to them about the unknown culprits in our food supplies. This is serious.
06/12/2009 4:13:34 PM CDT
Sean OBrien says ...
More people will die from McDonald's french fries than will be harmed by all GMO foods added together over the next 2000 years. People eat the most disgusting, toxic, unhealthy foods and nobody cares. But use the word "genetically modified" and suddenly it's an emergency. Let's get a grip on reality here people.
06/12/2009 4:28:44 PM CDT
Will Forne says ...
Wow! Mary Ellen's posts were so long, I completely lost interest in reading them. One person said it perfectly: So many people are eating garbage already, and we freak out when someone says "genetically engineered". Whole Foods does what they can, just like other alternative stores. If you took a microscope to every alternative food store, you're going to find something you disagree with. Maybe their banana boxes were made by children in the Philippines, perhaps they clean their floors with chemicals that were tested on animals, or maybe they buy in such bulk that it puts an exporter out of a job. The point is, WF and other like-minded stores are doing "something". Yes, there are still problems and you will never please everyone. Perhaps turning the microscope of scrutiny on ourselves is where the solutions will begin. Do you know where every thing you purchase is made? How it is made? Who makes it? What conditions? Blood Diamond was a good movie too.
06/27/2009 1:06:36 PM CDT
Mary Ellen says ...
I do all of my shopping at WF. I have been on a journey to health for over 10 years. Food politics has become a passion for me. This has led me to buy ONLY certified organic food (and, none from China, certified or not). I would LOVE to buy more local food, including meats, but, if choosing between locally grown food full of toxins or imported food that is organic, then I choose organic. As soon as a local farmer offers me what I'm seeking... non-toxic food... then I buy local. You used the phrase "we champion organic products"... while this is true with processed foods you offer, you seem to only "champion" so-called "natural" offerings when it comes to meat. Your meat case is full of "natural" meat but it's really hard to find anything organic anymore. Your organic offerings have dwindled while your processed offerings have increased. Frozen, breaded chicken nuggets have crowded out organic ground turkey in the freezer section. Not really "whole food" if you ask me. What bothers me the most is that you are pushing this "natural" meat. Anyone who knows anything about the difference between organic and natural knows that "natural" is a self-defined term that is almost meaningless. I believe WF has misled many people by pushing these meats as "natural" because they are SUPPOSEDLY hormone and anti-biotic free, but you've completely ignored the fact that ALMOST ALL meat is grain fed, and ALMOST ALL grain is GMO. There's no way in hell a farmer is going to feed their animals organic soy or organic corn 100% of the time, NOT shoot them up with hormones OR antibiotics EVER, and then not certify them and make the money selling them as organic. The whole point of paying to certify organic is so that a 3rd party can verify that the farmer is buying organic grain, etc. Without that verification, there is absolutely no incentive for anyone to pay more for organic feed 100% of the time if they are not selling their product as organic. And, since the latest numbers are about 92% of all soy in the USA is GMO and corn is close to that, I wouldn't believe anyone who claims to be using "conventional, non-GMO grain". Think about it. If 92% is GMO, that leaves 8% that's either "organic" or "conventional, non-GMO". For the sake of argument, let's assume it's 50/50. The 4% that's organic is certified. So, that would leave ONLY 4% of all grain as conventional, non-GMO... BUT, nobody has to certify it. Farmer affidavits are no substitute for 3rd party certifiers who check feed invoices. Instead of educating your consumers in a forthright way, you promote this so-called "natural" meat in a way that guides unsuspecting consumers in that direction. First, I truly believe that the PRIMARY reason your organic selections have not done as well is NOT because of higher cost, but because the marketing is horrible. As a very knowledgeable consumer who buys only organic, I have to search carefully to find anything. There should be big, bold, huge, shelf talkers saying ORGANIC! and having ALL organic meat offerings grouped together since you carry so few things. Also, there should be CLEAR information about the TRUE difference between your self-defined "natural" and the organic standards. I saw exactly the opposite recently. There was a laminated shelf talker written by some team leader that was several paragraphs long. It described your "natural" meat in terms that made it sound almost pure and practically divine, while the subsequent description of organic was so vague and convoluted I didn't really understand it! I was furious! If this comment sounds scathing, please understand that I have taken the time to write it because I spend ALL of my grocery money at Whole Foods and I want to see the standards RAISED, not lowered. I commend you for all of the good practices you have employed, but I also see how your growth as a corporation seems to have made it more difficult to adhere to the concept of "WHOLE" foods. I love that WF provides foods that I cannot find anywhere else. But, I am fearful because I see a trend toward crowding out "real" food and focusing on providing the under-educated (about food) with a lot of processed, convenience foods. I am told by your employees "they sell better" or "it's what people want". The same employees always follow up with the corporate sound bites from their training sessions about how high your standards are, your "commitment", etc... but I'm seeing a real "corporate" attitude toward your offerings where the "bottom line" is more important than anything else. I beg you to stick to your original concept of "whole food" and educate those who walk through your doors. For everyone who reads this post: I finished reading the book "Seeds of Deception" by Jeffrey Smith about 8 months ago. It is the most popular book about GMO's worldwide. I usually skim these types of books. I read this one cover to cover and was saying "oh, my GOD!" through the last chapter. Since then, I tell anyone who will listen, if you could only read one more book for the rest of your life, this HAS to be the book if there's any hope of stopping Monsanto from making 100% of the world's seeds GMO. That's been their goal since the mid 90's and they are almost there! For about $18 you can get the "GMO Trilogy" at Amazon.com. It includes the aforementioned book along with a couple of DVD's. I guarantee it will change your outlook forever. The well-documented book explains all of the facts in the first chapter, but I encourage you to read it all to understand just how the American public has intentionally been kept in the dark about GMO's. You'll hear accounts on the DVD's from midwestern farmers in the 1990's who, by word of mouth, figured out why their pigs either couldn't get pregnant or were giving birth to sacs of water (ugh!)... because they were all eating GMO grain. I have no connection to this product other than wanting to see consumers stand up against the most massive genetic experiment ever conducted. For the cost of a pizza, buy the trilogy and change the world. It might sound corny, but consumer awareness was all it took to get GMO's banned in Europe! Also, I just read the post about Silk soymilk. Rachel, I beg to differ with you when you state that there is "misinformation" going around about Silk. You then quote the company website as if their statements make it "fact". One of the country's top organic "watchdog" nonprofit organizations, The Cornucopia Institute, just published a 54 page report about soy within the past month. I personally don't believe in consuming massive amounts of unfermented soy, but, for anyone who does, this is a MUST read. Go to www.cornucopia.org to download the report. Just make sure you're sitting down when you read it. Thank God for organizations like Cornucopia, the Organic Consumers Union and others who are trying to keep our organics "organic"! Thank you, Mary Ellen Azzi Chicago, IL
06/13/2009 4:45:09 AM CDT
hannah says ...
Not to mention, Whole foods is one of the only places I can find tasty meat-alternatives when I go visit my parents in the midwest. We never had baked tofu or tempeh until we got a Whole Foods!
06/13/2009 5:10:39 PM CDT
Dinitia says ...
The film was quite good. I t provided information that a wide audience could take in. It has inspired me to help get better quality food(at cheaper prices) into more neighborhoods. I am seeking a grant to teach diabetics how to prepare foods that are satisfying and nutrtionally correct. I shall certainly use the infoin the film to help them be more informed shoppers.
06/26/2009 2:32:55 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Shanon Our meat producers are required to complete annual third party audits of their slaughter facilities that monitor animal welfare according to a rating system developed by world renowned animal welfare and facility design expert, Dr. Temple Grandin. These audits also include an assessment of food safety and strict compliance with the Food and Drug Administration's Good Manufacturing Practices within the plant. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Grandin, please visit: http://www.grandin.com/ At this time we only sell kosher poultry. Our slaughter standards require that all animals be stunned before slaughter. The only exception we have made to this standard at this time is for the ritual slaughter of chicken and turkey. As our product inventory varies from store to store, I would encourage you to check with your local store to inquire as to whether kosher poultry is available, or may be special ordered for you. Our standards prohibit tail docking pigs. We do not have specific requirements about feed, other than to prohibit animal by-products. We do require that cattle are on pasture or range for a minimum of 2/3 of their life. See my response @Eric Milano for more information, as there is no clear regulatory definition of the term “range raised.” We do allow High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in products sold at Whole Foods Market. We think you’ll find that products with HFCS are more the exception than the norm as in conventional supermarkets, and you won’t find HFCS in our 365 and 365 Organic products. Hydrogenated oils are not acceptable at Whole Foods Market. We are also concerned about GMOs in the food supply and hope you’ll keep an eye on our blog for future updates on what we are doing to address this issue.
06/10/2009 9:19:38 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Brynne We appreciate your comments and concern. We are piloting some innovative new programs that will make it easier for customers concerned with the treatment of farm animals to know what they are buying. We are rolling out this program region by region over the next two years, and we hope you’ll stay tuned for future updates.
06/11/2009 1:06:54 AM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Helena It is no secret that Whole Foods Market is a business. In fact, “Creating wealth through profits and growth,” is one of our Core Values. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business without making a profit. Our company was founded on the belief that businesses can do good in the world, and we have done our best in the foods we offer, with our green mission, our Whole Planet Foundation, and our support of local food growers and businesses, to name a few examples. We strive to offer value choices in our meat departments with family packs and regular meat specials. However, as I’ve mentioned, we have strict quality standards for our meat. We offer meats that are never given antibiotics or added growth hormones, are fed a vegetarian diet, and that are raised with the animal’s welfare in mind. It costs more for producers to raise their animals this way, and we know that it is your choice to determine whether you want to pay for that difference or not. Regarding your questions about product freshness, our suppliers don’t use any artificial preservatives to prolong the shelf life of their products. Milk stays fresh longer because of pasteurization, breads stay fresh because when they are not baked in a local store or bakehouse, they are shipped to our stores frozen and stay frozen until they are put on the shelf. We work hard to procure the freshest possible produce, and to properly store and gently handle produce once it is in our stores. This prevents problems like bruising which can hasten decay. We offer foods that are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils, and we feature products that are organic, local, fresher, and that we hope meet the expectations of our shoppers. We can offer a variety of choices for shoppers, and in the end we know it is up to you to make purchasing decisions based on what is important to you and what works for you and your family.
06/30/2009 1:39:22 PM CDT
Mary Ellen says ...
To: Everybody 1)Please read the soy report (and dairy report) at www.cornucopia.org 2)If you want to learn the horrible truth about GMO’s, get “The GMO Trilogy” (available from amazon.com). The trilogy includes the book “Seeds of Deception” by Jeff Smith and 2 dvds and a bonus cd for only $18. All of Monsanto's talking points are addressed in the book. Knowledge is power. Consumer awareness is my only hope that my food supply might be saved before it’s too late. Information is being intentionally kept out of the mass media by corporate powers. Look at the pressure from corporations. Hell, this blog about GMO's and Food, Inc. is being monitored by Monsanto (notice the post from Monsanto employee "John" above). Think about it people. If "John" believes all of Monsanto's claims that GMO's are great, then he would have no reason to shop at Whole Foods or be on the WF website "stumbling across this blog". Monsanto must have employees searching all over the internet doing this type of damage control and the film hasn't even been released yet! Dear Rachel, It's really been bothering me that you were so willing to defend a conglomerate like Dean Foods (the owner of Silk soymilk and Horizon Dairy, among others) based on some corporate statements on their website AND off-handedly dismissing the controversey about Silk as "misinformation" (apparently without ever researching the controversey and reading the 54 page report at www.Cornucopia.org). By making such sweeping statements in defense of Dean Foods and dismissing the controversey without exploration of the facts being exposed by consumer advocacy organizations, YOU ACTUALLY BECOME THE PERSON SPREADING MISINFORMATION. Ask yourself why would Dean Foods (Silk/WhiteWave) need to have "developed a Soybean Sourcing Production Program" when all they had to do was continue buying organic soybeans? Why do they refuse to disclose sourcing (which Cornucopia's research leads them to suspect is cheap, conventional soybeans from China for most of their products)? When they switched most of their soymilk to "natural" (i.e. conventional soy grown with pesticides whether it's GMO or not) did they drastically drop the price to reflect the savings? No. They quietly changed the wording on the regular packaging from "organic" to "natural". They split their "organic" offering into a separate product and raised the price. According to Cornucopia's soy report, "the CEOs of early pioneering companies that were bought by large, publicly traded corporations, such as Silk® (now part of Dean Foods) and Westsoy® (now part of the Hain Celestial Group), refused to share any information for the Organic Soy Scorecard." However, other companies were completely transparent. Common sense tells us that those with nothing to hide tend to be cooperative and transparent. EdenSoy sources 100% from U.S. and Canadian organic farms AND tests every batch of soybeans. There are other smaller companies providing similar quality. Organic Valley also sources 100% from organic U.S. farms but does not have a testing procedure in place. Read the whole report at www.cornucopia.org Whole Foods has strict standards in some areas (like no artificial sweeteners). But, in other areas, if a standard goes against some of their top selling products, it's easier to hide behind a corporate statement than to "lead the charge" in changing the marketplace. How can Whole Foods claim to be anti-GMO when it allows a company like Dean Foods (Silk) to hide behind a blurb on its website, while Dean and Hain (WestSoy) REFUSE sourcing transparency???? I would bet that if WF put its corporate buying power into demanding transparency from Dean and Hain, you would get it. But, then again, WF is refusing sourcing transparency about its corn chips because you say you’re buying on the commodities market instead of establishing buying relationships with U.S. farmers where you can have even more oversight. I’m not well versed on the Country of Origin (COO) law. Your 365 organic corn chips say “product of USA”… does that mean ALL ingredients AND production???? I’m nervous about this because I just ate this product last weekend for the first time in a long time. There was only one other product (organic kefir) I consumed last weekend that is not part of my regular diet. Several hours after ingesting each, I got a headache. I didn’t think anything of it. (And, no, it wasn’t a“cleansing” effect from the probiotics in the kefir since I take probiotics every day). The next day, I had more of the corn chips and kefir and a few hours later got a migraine headache that lasted over 24 hours. I truly hope you are not buying “organic” corn from China and being allowed to label this as “product of USA” just because the other ingredients and production are from this country. I don’t want cheap Chinese goods in my food. I appreciated WF splitting up their frozen veggie production… continuing Chinese sourcing for lower priced 365 organics while offering your Columbia River line of all USA organic produce. I’m all for free choice… if other people are comfortable buying goods from China then more power to them, but I have seen and read enough to believe that anything that comes from that country is tainted… there is little USDA oversight of organic certifiers, the few that were checked were in violation, and the country’s air and water pollution are so bad that even “organic” crops are being irrigated with toxic sludge, so please give me organic products that are NOT from China!
06/16/2009 2:49:41 PM CDT
Reina says ...
I spent an evening reading through the blog and applaud WF for allowing honest and direct challenges. I have made a choice in the last few months to eat as naturally and organically as I can. Like so many other Americans in 2007 and 2008 I spent 26 months out of work. I can work part time, I recieve SSDI and I am very proactive about rebuilding and sustaining my health. I buy the basic fresh oranges, apples, strawberries and some frozen organic veggies. My PT income went down 50%. A few of these last months I have needed Food Stamps. I try to shop smarter and have cut my intake by 30%. I am in the process of losing weight and have looked into the viability of being able to buy exclusivly from WF or Trader Joes. I appreciate learning about your economic program. Personally I don't consume soy products as I was informed by my doctor that it inhibits absorbtion of thyroid medication. I too have given up HFCS and white flour products, but I seem to be sensitive to all these other factors listed in the blogs. I am of a generation where I was a premie and an alcohol fetal syndrome baby and obesity seems to fall into that syndrome. I am not ready to go vegan, but I have reduced my meat intake substantially. I am learning and being more selective, but I need to be able to afford it. I don't smoke or drink, so I have no other disposable income to convert to natural and organics higher costs. The opening of this blog stated that you offer sale items and can sustain a family on a budget. This, I would like to see. I need to know that the eggs you sell don't have genetically altered corn fed to the chickens or any other products. I have seen many products in your store recommended by Dr. Oz and many other health guru's. Do you have experts in your stores or only well trained employees who recite back company policy? I am anxious to learn, change and seek health I have never known before. Eating well seems the foundation to a better life for me. I am open to any suggestions.
06/17/2009 12:31:10 AM CDT
Laurie says ...
I am glad this is all coming to light. Maybe 2 years ago, I heard a story on NPR about Monsanto's Round-Up Ready seeds. Round-Up Ready seeds are genetically modified to live through being sprayed with Round-Up weed and bug killer. Sounds smart at first. But, as the story explained, now we have stronger weeds, stronger bugs and stronger diseases. On top of that, we are feeding the Round-Up to our livestock, and then giving them antibiotics to counteract the dietary problems we are creating. The upshot is, we are feeding ourselves and our children poison(weed and bug-killer), antibiotics and hormones. So, we have MRSA, e. Coli in vegetables, girls hitting puberty before 10. You don't actually have to care about animal rights or mother nature to be concerned. We are killing OURSELVES! We should be smarter than this.
06/25/2009 3:39:27 PM CDT
Jamie says ...
I saw this movie today. It is a powerful commentary about what we put in our bodies. I've never felt better, or been healthier than when I switching to buying all organic, natural foods. I refuse to compromise my own health at the cost of making multi-national corporations richer and more powerful. I think everyone ought to see this movie. I'm so thankful that someone is finally bringing these issues to light. Now, if only we could solve making veggies as inexpensive as McDonald's burgers, we will have REAL change on our hands. I'm optimistic!
06/21/2009 6:12:53 PM CDT
Helena says ...
So, after seeing a movie and reading Rachel's post and some of the other shorter posts in their entirety, I have come to a conclusion that Organic Food industry is still a FOOD INDUSTRY, and is still there making money. WF is not affordable - at least not for me. I can afford to buy $19.99 per pound veal or $6.99 per pound chicken. The price level is not sustainable at all. At least for me, a woman with 2 children and a husband to feed. Organic for me is something that should be natural. I don't understand why organic milk has a shelf life of 3 months and does not go sour. What goes into that packaging? Antibiotics that don't go into milk? Why the bread does not go stale in 3 days and why it remains soft? Why does $19.99 per pound veal sits on the shelf in the store and does not go bad? and when is it when it stops being fresh? How come organic produce have sometimes a longer shelf life than regular? WF is in business to make money. I know for sure that Tyson Chicken did not pay for the production of that movie, but did organic producers? Food Inc - explains how food has become and industry, a business and a money making machine. And to me, WF is no better. WF is in the same business, milking money from consumers.
06/29/2009 10:06:54 AM CDT
Paul says ...
I heard that often produce from local vendors is required to be shipped to the nearest hub. For us, Austin, then it comes to our store, Boulder. Is this true?
07/14/2009 5:18:52 PM CDT
hsiaw says ...
@Paul We define local as food that has traveled less than 7 hours between vendor/farm and store. Yes, we do have a distribution hub in Denver, but we would not say, ship produce from Austin to that hub and call it "local" in Boulder. For our local vendors, products may either go directly to the store or through one of our regional distribution centers.
07/15/2009 2:59:37 PM CDT

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