Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

New: "Responsibly Farmed" Seafood Logo

By Carrie Brownstein, January 26, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Carrie Brownstein
AquacultureNew Since launching our enhanced Quality Standards for Aquaculture in July 2008, we've maintained a relatively low profile. We got the word out to the media, posted background information and the detailed standards on our website as well as brochures and other signage in our seafood departments. I also presented the standards at various meetings and conferences. However, we found that we still needed a quick way for our busy customers to see-at a glance-that there's something special about the farmed seafood sold at Whole Foods Market. Lots of people know Whole Foods Market as the company that prohibits preservatives such as sodium bisulfite, sodium tri-polyphosphate, and sodium metabisulfite in our seafood. But we go way beyond that. While there are a growing number of seafood standards out there, none have strict standards like ours that cover all the bases-from synthetic chemical use, feed, environmental contaminants, water quality and pollution prevention, predator control, to traceability. And this is just a subset of what our standards cover. norway2Simply put, the Whole Foods Market "Responsibly Farmed" logo means that the product meets our strict Whole Foods Market Quality Standards for Aquaculture. The logo also means that the product has been third-party verified to ensure our standards are being met. But hey, don't just take our word for it. It's not just us saying that our standards are the strictest. Our producers-the ones who actually farm the fish and have to meet the standards-say it too. And so have our supporters in the environmental community. Here's what a few had to say: The Farm Raised Seafood Standards at Whole Foods Market are at a level unto their own and took years to develop---they are the highest in the industry. —Rob Mayo, President, Carolina Classics Catfish, Inc. seafoodThere is no doubt that Whole Foods Market's aquaculture standards are the strongest among all grocers. Producers who want to supply farmed salmon to Whole Foods Market must be dedicated to moving the salmon industry in the right direction. We are proud to be a part of that move. —Johan Andreassen, Villa Organic, Norway Whole Foods Market's aquaculture purchasing policy sets a high bar for food retailers eager to provide healthy, ocean-friendly seafood for consumers across the country. When a leading retailer like Whole Foods Market makes this kind of commitment to standards for farmed seafood, suppliers around the world will work to meet the requirements. —Tim Fitzgerald, Senior Policy Specialist, Environmental Defense Fund So, how do you like the new logo?
Category: Seafood




Guro Meldre Pedersen says ...
Hi, having read through the Farm Standards for Finsifh and Shrimp, I am curious: Do the 3rd party audit your suppliers using this document, or do you have a more detailed checklist for audits?
01/26/2010 5:45:06 AM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Thank you for your question. Our third party auditors verify that the standards are being met. To conduct the audit, the auditors do indeed use a more detailed checklist. The checklist is almost 30 pages long and audits can take from several days to a week. It’s a very thorough process.
01/26/2010 6:03:11 AM CST
Erick says ...
This is very inspiring. Keep up the great work in leading the change we all know that we need. And I like the 'seal.' Very nice.
01/26/2010 12:12:36 PM CST
Jasmine says ...
Hmmm... http://www.barfblog.com/blog/138539/09/03/05/third-party-food-safety-audits-are-mail-order-diplomas Just a thought
01/26/2010 4:31:47 PM CST
screwdestiny says ...
Awesome. Once I move near a Whole Foods I'll only be buying my seafood from you guys.
01/27/2010 1:20:53 AM CST
Lisa Brownstein says ...
because of this rating system, my friends and I feel so confident in what fish to buy and what is a concern. Everyone always asks so now they can see for themselves. Great job
01/27/2010 1:29:16 PM CST
Joan says ...
extremely impressive standards and wonderful new logo.
01/27/2010 1:40:15 PM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Thank you, readers, for your support!
01/27/2010 1:50:01 PM CST
themaggieway says ...
Does this certify that the seafood is not fed corn (or other unnatural feed)?
01/29/2010 12:10:19 PM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Thank you for writing in on this topic. Our standards require that feed is nutritionally complete and we prohibit a number of ingredients from being used in feed. For example, we do not allow farmed fish to be fed poultry or mammalian by-products. Corn is not a prohibited ingredient, however. It can be included in feed, although not all producers have it in their feed. Among those who do, it is still only one ingredient. Feed still must have other ingredients to provide the protein, vitamins, etc. that the fish require for health. For the detailed standards, please check out http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/aquaculture.php. Section 4 of the Finfish and Shrimp standards covers feed. (In the salmon standards, it’s section 3). Also, we discussed the topic of corn in a previous blog entry, in the context of tilapia. Please check out my response: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2008/07/my-aquaculture-journey/#more-367.
01/29/2010 12:33:42 PM CST
Larry says ...
What you've completely left out is a comment on the single biggest concern of farm-raised seafood - PCB contamination. PCB is a known carcinogen. It's all well and good to claim that your standards are high, but what are your specific objective standards in terms of PCB content (vs. typical PCB content of farm-raised seafood from other sources) of your farm-raised seafood?
01/29/2010 12:44:30 PM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Hi Larry. Actually, we haven’t left this out at all. Please download our detailed standards http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/aquaculture.php. and check out section 5 of our Finfish and Shrimp standards (or Section 4 in the salmon standards) You can see our specific targets for PCB levels. These targets are based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Guidance for Assessing Chemical Contaminant Data. Whole Foods Market has chosen to use the EPA’s standards for seafood because they are the most protective standards available for human health.
01/29/2010 12:55:03 PM CST
Roz Kawwr says ...
Fantastic! Especially since I am sulfite sensitive. Love the logo.
01/29/2010 1:17:55 PM CST
Laura F says ...
Wow, this is great! I have cut my fish consumption to almost zero over fear for our oceans and possible contamination caused by farming. As usual, Whole Foods is leading by example. Thanks!
01/29/2010 1:49:45 PM CST
Jason says ...
Hi -- It looks great, I just have one question. Maybe I'm just being sense, but... who's the 3rd party that's verifying this?
01/30/2010 7:40:11 AM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Hi Jason, the third party auditors we use are from <a href="http://www.imo.ch" rel="nofollow">Institute for Marketecology (IMO)</a>. They work in about 90 countries and in addition certifying aquaculture operations, they are also certifiers of timber and organic products, as well as products from social responsibility and fair trade programs.
01/30/2010 7:52:08 AM CST
Dan Drais says ...
The logo is fine. The problem is that there is no responsible way to farm salmon in the ocean.* (I can't speak to other products.) See http://www.raincoastresearch.org/salmon-farming.htm for details. Whole Foods would be better served by following Target's lead and committing to selling only wild salmon. Who'd have thought that Target would be getting the jump on Whole Foods in such an important area of responsible food supply? *Inland salmon farming avoids most of the risks of net pens, but is quite rare and rarely economical. If the logo means WF is only buying from inland farms, I would be thrilled - and quite surprised.
01/30/2010 2:27:16 PM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Thanks for sharing your concerns, Dan. Actually, we are working to source salmon from inland farms. And we have a farm going through the audit process right now. However, as you point out, inland salmon farming is still quite rare so we also source from net pen farms to meet our customers’ desire for farmed salmon. We certainly could have chosen not to sell it at all, but we took a different direction. Instead of ignoring the problems in the industry, we decided that we would work to change them by developing an extensive set of strict standards for farmed salmon production and by providing a market for producers who can meet them. This wasn’t a simple undertaking. For a full year, we conducted extensive research on the farmed salmon industry, including review of all the best available science, consultation with the top environmental organizations, and visits to salmon farms worldwide. We analyzed the issues associated with farmed salmon production in great depth, including the use of marine resources in feed, impacts on predator populations and risks associated with escaped fish, pollution, and disease. Our farmed salmon standards reflect this research. Our feed standards, for example, prohibit antibiotics, hormones, melamine, and parasiticides. And to protect other animals in the ecosystem, we do not allow the use of lethal or harmful methods to control avian and marine mammal predators. We also have detailed protocols in place to prevent the escape of farmed fish into the wild. These are only a few examples, but hopefully give you an idea of the solutions we have created with this project. While these standards certainly move salmon farming forward environmentally and provide shoppers with an alternative to conventionally farmed salmon, we will continue to update and improve our standards as new information and better farming methods become available.
01/30/2010 2:30:59 PM CST
Roger C. Allen says ...
Hi, is your farm-raised salmon fed fishmeal? A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that it takes 5 lbs of wild fish to raise 1 lb of farm-raised salmon, thus causing even more pressure on stocks of wild fish. Your comments on Responsibly Farmed salmon do not specifically address this issue. Thanks
01/30/2010 5:26:03 PM CST
leslie a. says ...
i am so tired of buying fruit on "sale" at wholefoods (but regular prices at other stores)and having it look great but is OLD and mealy and tastes terrible. I waste TOO MUCH money because i throw away my receipts (hoping that optimistically i will be able to eat this fruit) so i have no recourse. UGH. help me never come to your store again.
02/01/2010 3:09:05 PM CST
brownsteinc says ...
Hi Roger, while the full information is not included in my blog comment, our Farm Standards for Salmon do address the use of fishmeal and fishoil in feed. Please download our detailed standards at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/aquaculture.php and check out section 3. We are working hard to reduce the pressure on stocks of wild fish. We do this by setting limits on the amount of allowable fishmeal and fishoil.
02/02/2010 12:55:03 PM CST
Allie says ...
I am really glad that Whole Foods is taking the steps in the right direction of sustainable fish farming. I am also glad because it sets the standard for others to follow.
02/03/2010 8:29:59 AM CST
Cyndi says ...
This is great information and I appreciate the standards you set with your customers in mind. I stopped shopping at WF a few months ago due to the (my) economy. Recently I had a change of heart and have decided to return to Whole Foods for my meat/fish and a few other items. My focus will shift back to quality and not quanity.
02/03/2010 9:16:09 PM CST
Mike LaMonda says ...
The new logo is a good clean layout that tells the story that Whole Foods needs to get across to their customers. It is a very good use of 2 colors that is easy to reproduce and will stay clean no matter what format it is reproduced in.
02/03/2010 11:11:14 PM CST
Tracy says ...
Nice logo and I may just start buying farmed fish now. Just a huge thank you for going in a positive direction in so many ways to show integrity in the food industry! As a mother of three growing children I truly appreciate having your store as a resource for "real" food!
02/03/2010 11:46:01 PM CST