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New: "Responsibly Farmed" Seafood Logo

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?

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68 comments

Comments

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.

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.

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.

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.

says …

Thank you, readers, for your support!

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?

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.

screwdestiny says …

Awesome. Once I move near a Whole Foods I'll only be buying my seafood from you guys.

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.

Faith Ahik says …

The logo is attractive. What makes Whole Foods "standards" so high? You mention prohibiting preservatives. What environment does your seafood spend their time in? Why is it superior? If farmed, are the fish treated with anything on any kind of a basis to prevent disease and if so, is it harmful to human consumption? If not harmful, how long has testing been done to qualify safety? Exactly how is it that your seafood sources are healthier than other competitors? General testimonies are helpful and compelling. I have personally noticed for the past month or so that there has been no hot seafood dishes in the hot buffet section at your stores and wondered why. There is hot seafood soup in the seafood department but I am speaking of the larger, general buffet/resturant section. I shop at Whole Foods often and eat there often as well. It has a clean and friendly ambiance and the food tastes good. I hope Whole Foods continues on their upward spiral despite the relatively recent changes in the organization, administratively. Most sincerely, Faith.

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.

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.

kristi says …

what are farm raised salmon fed?

Joan says …

extremely impressive standards and wonderful new logo.

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

Jasmine says …

Hmmm... http://www.barfblog.com/blog/138539/09/03/05/third-party-food-safety-audits-are-mail-order-diplomas Just a thought

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.

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.

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.

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!

themaggieway says …

Does this certify that the seafood is not fed corn (or other unnatural feed)?

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?

Roz Kawwr says …

Fantastic! Especially since I am sulfite sensitive. Love the logo.

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?

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.

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

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!

Pamela Lavender Grant says …

I like the new logo....I would like to see an oyster, but I can live!!!

Not A Sheep says …

You people are all gullible fools.

Diane says …

First off, I looooooove the fact that you are selling a lot of MSC certified fish. Can we eliminate all the others?! There is no need for it. You are doing such a great job providing customers with sustainable seafood choices. That being said, PLEASE DO NOT SELL FARMED SALMON OF ANY KIND! PLease please please. You are misleading consumers to think that inland farming of salmon is ok. It is not. Salmon is a carnivorous fish and therefore it takes fish to eat fish. Salmon not fed other fish is not proper diet for the salmon. Therefore, farming salmon is not sustainable. Please make a commitment to only sell wild salmon. Your attempt at an eco efficient solution is spending time in the wrong direction. It is not a solution and later on we will have the same problems as we do in the cattle industry. It seems so simple to just eliminate farmed salmon and only sell wild salmon in whole food stores instead of trying to fix an unfixable problem. CONSUMERS PLEASE READ***Also, you should not label your farmed salmon in the stores as "sustainably farmed" if it is in the process of certification from this "3rd party". That is beyond irresponsible. If I am in med school can I call myself a Dr. before I finish? No! Then why would you mislead customers to think they are buying something sustainable when it isnt. Please remove these signs from all whole foods markets

Diane says …

Sorry one more fact. This is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium site: "One of the biggest concerns is the amount of food required to raise farmed salmon. It generally takes three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon. The environmental impact of salmon farming is still increasing as global production continues to rise. " ***Inland farming reduces toxins in farmed salmon but doesnt not eliminate the issue that salmon farming of any kind has a negative impact on the environment due to the fact that they are carnivores.

George says …

how do you certify that the farmed salmon are not passing their ever present sea lice onto wild juvenile salmon? Sea lice from salmon farms are one of the most significant threats facing wild salmon.

paig292 says …

@George Our Quality Standards for Farmed Salmon have a number of requirements to address this issue. Our standards are available to the public online and we encourage you to check them out http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/aquaculture.php. In this document you will find several standards that address the issue. For example, we do not allow producers to use in-feed parasiticide treatments such as emamectin benzoate (Slice). This standard helps us prevent sourcing from farms that have serious sea lice problems, as they typically depend on Slice and use it quite heavily. We also have siting requirements that require farms to be located at adequate distances from areas known to be important for wild salmon populations. For all of our standards, we use third-party audits to ensure that our standards are being met. In addition, the sea lice and wild salmon interaction issue is especially critical in British Columbia due to the density of salmon farms located in areas where there are thriving wild salmon populations. We are not sourcing farmed salmon from that region. Hopefully this addresses your concerns.

Gina Emerick says …

To Diane, Bravo to you! I have been listening to Chef Rick Moonen who is a true sustainable seafood advocate. Sounds like you are too.

Diane says …

To Gina...I have never heard of that chef but now I want to check him out! Actually in the process of receiving my undergrad in Biology at UCLA I had the amazing fortune to have classes taught by some of the worlds leading conservationists. I learned sooooo much about true conservation and what is really good for our planet. Unfortunately in the US we have consistently put a band aid over the situation with the concept that recycling is the answer. While recycling is essential, not doing the damage in the first place is the only sustainable answer. This is why the "responsible farmed salmon" drives me nuts because biologically it is not possible. ***Notice how the whole foods rep didnt address my comments. Because there is no way to justify producing fish in order to produce salmon.

David Lu says …

Why does whole seafoods go strictly by the standards set by two environmental groups without actually checking the reliability of the groups themselves data--both these groups use scientific agenda based data some of which is supplied by the curropt Fisheries Management Divisions under NOAA, which has been under scrunity from the Commerce department for agenda based science (survey nets with holes cut in them) and also for unfair and unchecked law enforcement practices.

Aileen says …

My concern is the PCB levels in the fish, namely Salmon. What are the current levels? I did look at your website on the standards, and saw that there is testing annually with the goal to reduce the concentrations of PCB to the maximum recommended contaminant level of 0.011ppm (11ppb). Has this goal been reached? What are the current levels now for Salmon?

paig292 says …

Thanks, Aileen, for writing. Our third-party auditors review lab results to evaluate the status of suppliers in meeting all of our standards. Producers can lower PCB levels in their fish by changing how they source feed ingredients. Some real good work has gone into addressing this issue. I’m sorry but we can’t post test results on our website.

Aileen says …

Thank you Paige for responding, but I would like to know what's in my fish when I purchase it. How can I find out what the levels currently are and if the goals are being met? Is there a phone number that I can call to have my questions answered?

Molly Gil says …

Is all of the farm raised fish sold at WF responsibly farmer? In particular I am interested in the Norwegian farmed salmon. Thanks

Bobby H says …

@Molly Gil, Our Catfish, Salmon and Shrimp with the “Responsibly Farmed” Seafood logo are guaranteed to be responsibly framed. We are also expanding our aquaculture standards to include even more species. To see our quality standards click here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/aquaculture.php

Linda Keith Anderson says …

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your commitment to “Responsibly Farmed” seafood. I feel extremely lucky to have access to the wonderful food choices that Whole Foods provides. I have completely restored my health in recent years through proper nutrition and I love the fact that I can count on Whole Foods to deliver food that is not only delicious, but responsible. Keep up the good work and, again, many thanks!

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Linda Keith Anderson says …

Thank you for providing such wonderful seafood! I appreciate your commitment to quality. I love everything about your store and this is yet another thing to love. Many thanks and keep up the good work!

Sarah says …

I am surprised that Whole Foods is in support of farm raised seafood that are grain fed. I understand that this allows for more sustainable seafood, but why not support farm raised fish that are fed a natural fish diet? Farm raised fish that is fed grain never tastes right.

Carrie James says …

Thank You, Whole Foods for helping to bring conscious farming to our fisheries! You've just won over a purchaser to Farm Raised fish at Whole Foods market. Carrie A. James

Michelle Adato says …

Your website does not say anything about whether you do anything to reduce PCBs in your farm raised salmon. Please explain this. Thank you.

Deb says …

does this mean that you don't use antibiotics?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DEB - None of the meat sold in our stores will have any antibiotics added.

George Eliason says …

Bohunk! The amount of pollution generated from farmed salmon "feedlots" is staggering. The sea lice that outmigrant salmon smolts get from passing by farmed salmon pens contributes to the decline of wild and sometimes threatened salmon. I am baffled that Whole Foods does not sell exclusively wild Alaskan salmon. George

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