Whole Story

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Let's Respect Farm Animals

Let It’s often easy to forget that the burger, steak or drumstick on your plate was once an animal. How was that animal raised? How was it treated? Where did it come from? What did it eat? What about hormones and antibiotics? Was its growth artificially accelerated to get to market sooner and reduce feed cost? Here are a few things to think about as you try to answer those questions. outsidebox Let’s Drink To That Administering synthetic growth hormones such as rBST to dairy cows can increase milk yield and thus the supply of milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc. For your convenience, Whole Foods Market offers a wide selection of dairy products, including many from farms that don’t give their cows synthetic growth hormones. In fact, our own 365 Everyday Value® and Whole Foods Market™ brand dairy products (including cheese) are from farmers who pledge not to use rBST. Another great way to avoid them is to choose organic, since the National Organic Standards don’t allow synthetic growth hormones…vote with your dollars! If you were buying milk, would you look for a label with “no rBST” or “no rBGH”? Take our poll on synthetic growth hormones and see how your thoughts stack up with others. Let’s Allow Hens To Be Hens Cage-free eggs are from laying hens that move around freely, exercise and scratch about instead of being confined in a cage. All eggs sold in cartons and used in recipes in our Whole Foods Market kitchens and bakehouses are cage free. Let’s Respect Our Dinner Our meat and poultry standards at Whole Foods Market not only allow us to offer the highest quality food to our customers, they take into account the comfort, physical safety and health of the animals. For example, our animal welfare standards require enough space for chickens to run around and flap their wings. Remember: Every bite has a story. Your conscious food choices make a world of difference. Learn more at Let’s Retake our Plates.

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49 comments

Comments

screwdestiny says …

Well said. I truly believe that many of the animals on this earth were put there for us to consume them. But I do not by any stretch believe that God meant for us to treat them like we do. It's horrific and we should be ashamed, but for some reason very few seem to care.

Deborah says …

Well done of you to stock only supplies from animals who were treated well. I am a vegan and feel good about my choice not to contribute to the cruelty propagated on animals in the name of food (which is, essentially, unessential. People can get by easily without consuming meat). I agree with another poster, treating animals humanely prior to death is good, but they don't want to be eaten and I feel good (and healthier) by skipping the meat altogether.

FairTrade says …

Well said and quite right. In fact I'd say that if you don't respect farm animals you cannot respect yourself... do you honestly think those growth hormones don't get passed on? In the UK many people believe that growth hormones shorten the useful lifespan of dairy animals... do you want your useful lifespan shortened?

Elli Hall says …

I am very happy to see Whole Foods endorsing meaningful standards of care for farm animals... Thank you...it's a good thing. I personally can't forget for one minute that cooked meat was once a sentient being... so even though I love bacon etc. I am no longer eating meat... and I feel good about reducing the suffering of animals ( who certainly don't want to die no matter how humanely they have been raised).

dr ak says …

reall proud the read so m,uch you are doing for organics god bless your good job/dr aqk /india /texas

JudyCollins says …

Its about time someone has started to do something about the things we eat from animals. They don't want to die or live in a cage just like us. How about if they treated us the way we treated them we would not like that I try to eat less meat now and only buy meat that lets the animal live a decdent life before coming to their demise this is sad that we take lobster out of the ocean and put them in a age and boil them or chop them while they are alive how cruel humans are

nick mclogic says …

@Screwdestiny: I couldn't disagree more about them being "put there for us to consume them". They were born to propagate their species, as are ALL animals, including us. I don't believe in magic, so I will say that some animals are difinitely natural prey for humans, and the ones we do eat should be treated with respect and not suffer. From your point of view it would be good stewardship iof the earth, and from mine it would be common sense and evolution by natural selection at work.

Kimlouw says …

For those of us interested in humane treatment of our food, check out the following website http://www.certifiedhumane.org/ "...Without our inspection to verify that our standards are being met, anyone can say they meet our standards but unless you see the “Certified Humane Raised and Handled® logo on the package, don’t believe it." I would encourage Whole Foods to start also carrying products with this label, if they don't already. We, your customers, would be thrilled!!!! Thank you.

Kimlouw says …

For those of us interested in the humane treatment of our food, we applaud anyone trying to make a difference. Whole Foods helps and everyone can help just by researching online for "certified humane" products (there is a non-profit 3rd party organization that actually labels products as Certified Humane). So see, there is hope!

Rox Church says …

I watched the documentary Food Inc. not too long ago, and it has completely changed the way that I shop for groceries. I had no idea about the cruelty imposed on these living creatures that make my food. The absolute disrespect to life shocked me and saddened me. I am now very careful of not only where I shop, but also WHERE I EAT. I realize that I will pay more money for my food, but it is worth it, not only because I am contributing to change, but also because I am also investing in my own future health. We, consumers, have the power to change this awful reality. Let's do it.

paig292 says …

@Dan For the past 10 years, Whole Foods has required ALL producers who sell meat to us to work with slaughter plants that have animal welfare practices well developed. They are required to pass an audit for animal welfare annually, and that audit is based on the tolerances and criteria developed by Temple Grandin. Measurements and observations include stress to the animal (measured in several different ways) at critical points throughout the plant, insensibility prior to slaughter, etc. We do not want animals to be stressed or to experience pain at slaughter. You can read more about the methods and criteria used to assess animal welfare at http://grandin.com/. Thanks for your question.

Eating less Meat says …

I would also like to see Whole Foods carrying the Certified Humane raised and handled products. The more that I hear and read about the horrible mistreatment of animals the sicker that I feel. I'm starting to eat less meat in an effort to go vegetarian and during this process would like to purchase only Certified Humane products.

Debra says …

Along with another person here, I am also wondering why Whole Foods does not carry products with the label "Certified Humane" on them. Sure, Mary's Organic Chicken Farm in California has a nice website with a video that depicts happy, well treated chickens...but why aren't any of the meats stamped with the "Certified Humane" stamp? http://www.certifiedhumane.org/ I am just curious, this is no way meant to criticize Whole Foods in any way- I love your store very much - I am just wondering why they dont have that label.

paig292 says …

@Debra You are right that Whole Foods Market should be concerned about the welfare of animals raised for meat. We have been working for 10 years on increasingly more stringent animal welfare standards and have now chosen the Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating as the welfare certification we will present in our stores. While other animal welfare certifications are well respected, the 5 Step program provides us with specific and detailed information that we have determined is necessary to assure that our customers’ expectations are met. Our producers also have the incentive to strive for higher levels of animal welfare over time and be recognized for the improvements made. Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating standards have been developed for beef cattle, pigs and broiler chickens and are in the works for other species as well. Our producers are being audited now to determine their Step ratings and our meat cases will reflect these certifications by the end of 2010. It’s been a long process, and we are excited that it is about to hit our stores…and to change the way animals are raised around the world.

Dan Jordinelli says …

I've seen claims that the organic and free range meats sold by Whole Foods are antibiotic and hormone free. This is great and I do appreciate that. I'm curious which humane method is used to kill the cattle and what slaughterhouse method is used. Folks with ethic based vegetarian choices are curious just how this method continues your humane treatment of the animals before they are shipped to Whole Foods for sale to the consumers. I personally would eat meat on ocassion if I knew for a fact that from birth to market they are treated with care and love. Thank you for answering this honest question. Dan

paig292 says …

@Jacqueline We use fresh cage-free eggs in all of our Kitchens, Bakeries, Bakehouses and Commissaries. All of our 365 in-shell eggs are cage-free. Certified Organic Eggs, in accordance with the USDA’s National Organic Standards, are cage-free and the hens are required to have access to the outdoors and are fed an all-vegetarian feed free of antibiotics, drugs, pesticides and animal byproducts. If you are buying products that have eggs as an ingredient, you may want to choose ones that use organic eggs. Thanks for asking.

Jacqueline says …

So if I buy an all natural product that says eggs, but not specifically organic eggs, then the eggs might be cage-free or might not, right? Thanks

paig292 says …

@Jacqueline Yes, that's a correct assumption. You would need to contact the manufacturer to find out specifically unless they advertise it on the packaging that they went the extra step of sourcing eggs from cage-free hens. Thanks.

Jacqueline says …

Does Whole Foods require every product carried in their stores that use eggs as an ingredient to be cage-free? Or is it just for the cartons of eggs and the eggs used in their bakeries and the 365 brand products?

Kathleen Lowy says …

I appreciate that you take into consideration the welfare of animals. I will purchase dairy products and eggs at your stores, particularly as I see they have the Certified Humane label., the only way I will purchase eggs and dairy products. I hope you will have more Certified Humane products. Thank you.

Jennifer says …

Can you please tell me if the cheese, and other dairy ingredients in your 365 label non-organic products are sourced from humane farms? Also, does Whole Foods periodically audit its non-organic dairy suppliers to review their practices? Thank you, Jennifer

violet Kanda says …

I am almost sure my message is rejected and nobody is going to read but I try anyway. Firstly, if people respect farm animals, they don't see farm animals as food animals. Secondly, farm animals are not stupid. they know death is near when they hear scream and smell blood of other slaughtered animals. What I am saying is there is no such thing call humane slaughter knowing unlike our companion animals(cats and dogs)farm animals are killed with bullets and knives while they are still in full conscious. Humane slaughter sound nice for meat eaters but is bullets between the eyes of animal humane? I am sure sometimes it is necessary for killer to shoot cows and pigs more than once. If our companion animals are killed same way cows, pigs, chickens are killed, I am sure millions of people get upset but because they are farm animals, people have different way of thinking.

Tiferet says …

Look, vegans and vegetarians posting in this thread--I respect your right to choose what you want to eat, and your right to think what you want to think, but please stop saying that it's totally easy for people not to eat meat. Due to health conditions there are many grains that I cannot eat at all and I have to limit my carbohydrates. It's almost impossible to eat gluten free pastry that hasn't got eggs in it and meat is one of the few foods I can trust NEVER to make me sick (unless of course it's contaminated or rotten, as can happen to any food). I know there are gluten free vegans in the world but I feel my life is hard enough and my dietary choices already sufficiently limited that it annoys me beyond belief when people say it's easy not to eat meat or any animal products at all. If you cannot have gluten or soy (I can have soy but I know many people who can't) your meatless protein options are pretty limited and I'm just not willing to go there.

Susan says …

Your 5 step program excludes all dairy products whether from cows or goats. Is there a reason they don't need humane treatment? Or is it that there is no humane way to steal milk from a mother and butcher her child.

says …

@Susan Thank you for reaching out. I just spoke with Elizabeth Fry, our 5-Step Rating specialist regarding your concern with dairy animals. We'd like to assure you that Global Animal Partnership has plans on their horizon for the humane treatment of dairy animals. Unfortunately, this is a very slow process and as the Global Animal Partnership continues to improve their processes and the standard that each ranch/farm is held, they will be more able to better handle the same process when it comes to the humane treatment of our dairy producing animals. Whole Foods Market is currently working with all of their egg producers to increase the quality of life for egg-laying hens. We share your concern for all these creatures and want to assure you that this is a slow but continually moving process to better the treatment of all animals purposed for consumption in some manner.

Nancy says …

Do you offer "certified humane" meats and poulty? If not, when will it be Wholefoods goal to do so?

says …

@Nancy Yes, we work very ardently to ensure the humane treatment of the meats we serve. We've chosen to partner with Global Animal Partnership to certify our producers' animal welfare practices. We're rolling out their 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards in every Whole Foods Market store in the United States and Canada.You can read more about the program at the below link. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/meat/welfare.php

Kris says …

American Humane Certified eggs are not the real deal. You want to buy eggs that are Animal Welfare Approved. This is the only certification that means true humane treatment to the hens. Look at http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html

A. Clark says …

I've recently begun buying most to all of our household foods from Whole Foods. I'm interested in organic, no artificial homones, and no pesticides, but most important i'm interesetd in the humane treatment of animals. Can I be assured that no products from Whole Foods come from manufacturers who treat their animals inhumanely? Can I be assured that all dairy products come from cows that are allowed to live healthy lives and roam pastures on their farms and NOT from diary cows that are hooked up to milking machines all day long. Can i be assured that all meats come from animals that are allowed to live healthy lives and roam pastures and not from animals like pigs who are tied down their whole lives or cows that are pumped full of hormones and live in small bins. That poultry comes from birds who roam freely and are fed healthy diets. That cage-free really does mean that they are allowed to live outdoors and not just packed into warehouses (non-cages) with hundreds or thousands of other birds all squeazed in together. THese are the assurances I am looking for. What kind of assurances is Whole Foods able to give its customers?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@A.CLARK - We're happy to offer assurance for the humane treatment of animals. Since the release of this blog post we have rolled out The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards. We teamed up with the Global Animal Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to continually improving the lives of farm animals, to make sure you make informed choices about the food you eat. For more information, you can visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards. Keep an eye out at your local store for The 5-Step Animal Welare Ratings on various meat products.

christine says …

Thank you for offering a choice! So many retailers offer animal products that were not produced under compassionate circumstances. Thank you for doing something different and doing something that will one day be the norm.

Gary Griffith says …

Can I find out if you have milk and cheese where the dairy cows are treated better than any other factory farm cows. I am concerned about treatment and I wasn't even thinking about hormones just treatment. Any info will be appreciated. Thanks gary

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GARY - We have long been a pioneer of animal welfare for animals raised for our consumption. We have the highest standards in the industry and are very proud of them. With regard to dairy cattle, we look for milk produced by animals that have not been given added hormones or antibiotics. However, at this time we have not created specific standards with regard to the animal’s welfare beyond those set by the USDA. Buying organic milk can ensure that there is an added level of animal welfare consideration. Cows that produce certified organic milk are not given antibiotics or added growth hormones. In addition to having access to the outdoors, cows on certified organic farms are fed 100% organic feed, so consequently they're not exposed to persistent pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, eliminating the possibility that these chemicals may turn up as residues in the milk. (Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, including the use of cloned animals, are also prohibited by the Organic Standards.)

Jeanette says …

I would like to see more "certified humane" cheeses at Whole Foods. I enjoy your Green Valley "certified humane" yogurts but have not seen any certified humane(rennet-free obviously) cheeses. Please remedy this. I have two vegetarian/vegan children, their friends are vegetarian/vegan, and this seems to be a growing trend in our new compassionate world. Though I am not vegan, I respect my children by eating respectfully towards animals and try only to buy humane dairy products.

Amy Henry says …

Love the Certified Humane foods! Can you get more of them?

Koren Ishibashi says …

Why don't you stocked certified humane eggs? I've been buying eggs from another supermarket chain because I frankly don't know whether or not I can trust your eggs. And I'm a customer who shops at Whole Foods weekly.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KOREN - Our stores should have a variety of egg options. Based on what you're looking for, we have built a guide to explain what the different labels mean. You can check out the guide at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/food-guides/eggs.

Raine Tillman says …

I understand that the dairy products your company sells are bought from farms that don't use synthetic growth hormones however, to take it one step further.... Are you selling dairy products that have the "Certified Humane Raised and Handled" label? This certification goes far beyond not using growth hormones, to making sure the cows have free range, and have a diet of mostly grass. They also have high standards on the humane slaughter practices of all farm animals. I would love to buy cheese, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese from a grocer who sells CHRH products, so if you would kindly let me know if Whole Foods does, I'd be delighted to hear.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RAINE - Since our exact products differ between stores, it will vary which products have this certification. I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see if they have any products that meet this level of certification.

Lena says …

Does Whole Foods demand for humane treatment of animals include Temple Grandin's humane(low stress) slaughter methods?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LENA - Yes, we started working with Dr. Grandin in 2002 in regards to animal welfare standards. You can find more info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-basics.

Rachel says …

I very much hope that Whole Foods will institute a ranking system for the dairy products it sells, much like for meat. Dairy practices in this country are often deplorable, such as calves being removed from their mothers within days of birth and cows never leaving the stalls where they are milked. Veal practices are even worse. Would you please let me know what it will take to begin to audit diary practices for more than just hormone usage?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RACHEL - We hope to have dairy guidelines in the future. Since there aren't USDA regulations in place for dairy, it will take some time.

maria warner says …

what about slaughtering practices? apparently most slaughterhouses boil chickens alive.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARIA - The meat we sell is in partnership with the Global Animal Partnership and you can find detailed info at http://www.globalanimalpartnership.org/.

Patricia says …

I've been reading web sites concerning the labeling of meats "Certified Humane." I would support Whole Foods wholeheartedly if they would provide a section of "Certified Humane" products. Don't think WF has gone far enough in considering the well being of animals.

Patricia Cora says …

How are your milk cows raised for cheese or gallons of milk. I've read they can be severely abused. I know they aren't being given any kinds of hormones. What about are they confined or how?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@PATRICIA - We do not currently have a formal dairy rating system like we do for our meat but we are working on it. In the meantime, I would suggest looking for organic options as the standards will be higher. You can find additional info at http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/01601-0002-32.pdf.

Tricia Teason says …

I would like to see more Certified Humane dairy products in your store. Thanks.