Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Leading the Way for Farm Animals

By Frances Flower, July 7, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Frances Flower

With all the excitement about our Step-rated beef, pork and chicken in the meat case, I thought it would be good to talk about Global Animal Partnership, the organization behind the 5-Step Animal Welfare Standards Rating Program. Although Global Animal Partnership is considered a relatively young non-profit organization (founded in 2008), it is now one of the leading farm animal welfare programs in North America, with almost 1500 farms already audited and certified by independent, third-party companies. Miyun Park, GAP’s Executive Director, explains, “I’m excited that despite still being in our early years, we’ve been able to positively impact the lives of 140 million animals with our 5-Step standards and engage with such a wide variety of producers concerned about improving the welfare of the animals they raise!”

With several different animal welfare labels in grocery stores, you might wonder what sets Global Animal Partnership and their 5-Step program apart from the rest. Miyun describes, “One of our core missions is to promote and facilitate continuous improvement in animal agriculture. What is unique about our program is not only our multi-stakeholder leadership, but our multi-tiered system. We’ve brought together experts from around the world and from many different sectors, including farmers and ranchers, retailers, animal welfare academics, and leaders from four of the largest animal advocacy organizations, to find common ground and work together to improve the welfare of farm animals. Additionally, our signature initiative, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program, is groundbreaking in that it is multi-tiered, encouraging ever higher welfare by its very structure. The 5-Step program helps producers communicate how they care for their animals, engages a broad spectrum of farm animal production systems, provides consumers greater transparency about how animals were raised, and inspires producers to move up to higher Step levels. And, of course, it benefits the animals themselves.”

I asked Miyun what’s next for Global Animal Partnership. “We’ve been extremely busy revising the three current sets of standards based on all of our learnings and new scientific research, expanding our auditor training materials, and much more. Currently, there are Step-rated farms and ranches in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and we are already talking with producers in other countries. Plus we’ve been in discussions with grocery stores and restaurants here and abroad. It’s exciting to know there’s so much interest in our 5-Step program! On top of that, we are also working on three new sets of standards — for egg-laying hens, turkeys and lambs. So watch this space for lots of updates in the future!”

Learn more about Global Animal Partnership and their programs.




Darrem says ...
"provides consumers greater transparency about how animals were raised". And if slaughterhouses had glass walls.
07/13/2011 6:02:07 PM CDT
Laura F says ...
Anything that improves the welfare of animals raised for food is a good thing! Today's factory farms are nothing more than mechanized madness and buildings of horror for the animals, who suffer abuse daily. While I am pleased that Global Animal Partnership is taking steps towards more human treatment of animals raised as food items, we have a very long road ahead of us. By adopting a vegan diet, as I have for the last 15 years, we can use our dollars to boycott the cruel and inhumane treatment of those living, feeling beings unfortunate enough to be raised for food. I do hope that Global Animal Partnership can make great strides to ease the suffering of these animals.
07/13/2011 7:19:57 PM CDT
Superdiamond says ...
This is amazing. Our food will be so much healthier, and our earth better because of this. I might stop being vegan if this becomes a national standard on meat and poultry products!
07/13/2011 7:52:54 PM CDT
Courtney says ...
Love the chicken
07/14/2011 4:56:44 AM CDT
Lynne Velazquez says ...
Eating animals is wrong in every way. It's bad for your health. It's cruel and barbaric. I understand that Whole Foods is a for-profit company, but I beg you to have more understanding for how disturbing it is to see photographs of happy animals destined to be slaughtered. You can sell meat if you have to, I understand that from a business perspective -- but please desist from making me swallow your distasteful propaganda.
07/14/2011 11:05:46 AM CDT
Trish says ...
I'm with Lynne Velazquez. This is just to make you feel good, but the end result is the same. Eating animals is not the way to go.
07/14/2011 1:20:10 PM CDT
Elizabeth Ayala says ...
Hi,Firstly I am a vegetarian. I know that animal slaughter will not stop just because I am vegetarian. But animal welfare and humane treatment of the animals who give up their lives so unwillingly for some people's sustenance is very important to me. I have very happy that Whole Foods has taken to partnerships with humane farmers. And I am pleased to see a Five-Step program in place that will perhaps go further and continue to improve the lives of these helpless animals. Thank you for being their voice.
07/14/2011 2:54:55 PM CDT
Jill Cup says ...
I find it sad and very un tolerant for people like the two forementioned to demonize all people and companies who want to eat healthier meat and sell it. Who are you to say what is wrong and what is right for everyone? Just because being a vegan has worked for you doesn't mean its right for everybody on earth. Everything in life dies some sooner then others. How about the plants you kill everyday to live? Im sure you don't feel sad or bad about killing them to survive? We need a bit more tolerance in the world for people who do things differently. Just because its different from you doesn't make it bad.
07/14/2011 3:16:02 PM CDT
Steve says ...
I'm with Superdiamond on this one. I think it's awesome that Whole Foods has decided to only buy from farms and ranches that raise their animals humanely. Personally, I think veganism is a nice ideal, but it's not really biologically viable for most people. A good site that has lots of awesome information is the Weston A. Price Foundation (http://www.westonaprice.org), which dispels a lot of mis-information about veganism and the like which has been vastly over-promoted by big agriculture.
07/14/2011 11:18:34 PM CDT
Steve says ...
Oh, here's a better link for this particular page: http://www.westonaprice.org/vegetarians Cheers!
07/15/2011 11:35:50 AM CDT
Tina Blake says ...
This will nor make me eat meat, but it may make meat eaters aware of how the animals they eat have been treated.
07/17/2011 8:38:51 PM CDT
Todd says ...
Theres nothing like coming home at the end of a long day at the chop shop and enjoying a 24 oz juicy steak, bacon wrapped sausages, and a healthy chicken salad, while washing it down with a healy protien shake...mmmm...that hits the spot..Thankyou wholefoods for making me feel better about the welfare of these delicious animals...I just might have to make this once a month treat to an once a day festivity...Like momma always said, "treat others like as you would like to be eaten".....thats my MOMMA!!
07/26/2011 6:06:31 PM CDT
Hoppy Bunny says ...
As someone who eats meat but hates the way commercially-raised animals are treated, I am very excited about this system. I am looking for Step 5 pig ranchers--the only step that doesn't castrate their pigs--but can't find any!! Francis--does WF know of any Step 5 purveyors of bacon??
08/07/2011 12:14:28 AM CDT
Bobby Hawley says ...
@Hoppy Bunny, Glad to hear you are excited about the 5-Step Program! At the moment we don’t have any pork producers with a Step 5 rating. We have encouraged our suppliers to work on getting this step level and while no-one has achieved it yet, some of the producers are actively working on it. Please check back soon.
08/15/2011 9:15:31 AM CDT
Jennifer says ...
I am an animal lover, and I do eat meat. If animals that we eat can at least have a happy life while they are here then I'm all for it. I am thrilled that Whole Foods has instituted the Global Animal Partnership and it's the entire reason I started shopping there recently. I won't buy meat anywhere else from now on.
09/29/2011 4:44:50 PM CDT
Roger says ...
I am wondering if in this 5star program about antibiotics, pesticides and organic feeding is rated and taken into consideration? I would love to eat pork but am really skeptical of how the pigs are produced and what they are fed. Thanks, Roger
09/29/2011 4:57:39 PM CDT
zahirul says ...
Greetings I stumbled on your blog by mistake when i was searching Live search for this concern, I need to tell you your website is quite useful I also seriously like the design, it is great!
11/09/2011 11:07:27 AM CST
Lori Hugill says ...
Global Animal Partnership is listed on the ASPCA Web site, and that's a good thing! Personally, I'm a pescetarian, but I know all people with a conscience -- whether they're vegan or nonvegan -- can agree that factory "farming" MUST go out of business. Trying to shame people into not eating meat hasn't worked and will never work.
07/09/2014 5:10:39 PM CDT