Our Commitment to GMO Labeling

By 2018, all food products in our U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

We are the first national grocery chain to commit to providing full GMO transparency for our customers.

We are well on our way to meeting our 2018 deadline. Currently, we offer over 25,000 certified organic items and about 8500 Non-GMO Project Verified products in our stores.

Our GMO labeling initiative includes all of the food we sell. It’s a complicated process and with over 100,000 supplier partners, it is going to take some time. Still, our GMO labeling will go further than the state laws and initiatives for labeling that have passed or been proposed so far.

Our initiative will require products based on or containing GMO risk ingredients to be labeled by manufacturers. A risk ingredient is one derived from any of the genetically engineered agricultural crops. Currently those are corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, cotton, alfalfa, zucchini, summer squash and papaya. There are hundreds of ingredients and additives derived from these crops.

Additionally, we are requiring our meat, dairy, egg and farmed seafood suppliers to verify whether or not animals were fed GMO corn, soy or alfalfa — a key issue that is not addressed in most state laws or initiatives.

We are working hard on this process and are committed to providing our customers the information they desire to help them make choices — something that isn’t available anywhere else.

What's happening right now in the process?

Here’s a breakdown of just some of the work going on by store department.

Grocery | Produce | Meat | Prepared Foods
Dairy, Eggs & Cheese | Seafood | Body Care & Supplements | Wine & Beer

PACKAGED FOODS (GROCERY)

  • For several years, we’ve sought out new offerings that are organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.

  • We’ve pioneered products from animals fed non-GMO feed (eggs, yogurt, milk) and launched numerous Biodynamic products, which do not allow GMOs.

PRODUCE

  • Very few GMO crops end up in your local produce department. These five are considered to be "high-risk" for GMOs unless they are grown organically: sweet corn, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, yellow summer squash and edamame (soy).

  • We are working to provide verified non-GMO versions of these five high-risk produce items in our stores whenever possible. Please ask us about the source or buy organic.

  • Our Responsibly Grown produce rating system requires growers to disclose use of GMO seeds or plant material so that we can provide accurate information for our customers.

MEAT

  • We are working with all of our national suppliers to encourage the use of non-GMO feed, as available and some are doing so already.

  • Some of our local and regional suppliers are in the process of becoming Non-GMO Project Verified. Their size makes it easier for them to work with a small mill to provide non-GMO feed.

PREPARED FOODS

  • We’ve communicated with our suppliers about our goal to use non-GMO ingredients when possible.

  • We focus on using our 365 Everyday Value® brand (all plant-derived ingredients sourced to avoid GMOs) wherever possible — including canned and frozen vegetables, beans and tomato products — as well as Non-GMO Project Verified mayo, both egg-based and vegan.

  • We provide many organic options throughout our prepared foods department, including salad bar items, rotisserie chicken and soups.

  • We use non-GMO canola oil in products made in our stores and our commissary kitchens. (We are working with our vendor partners on this as well.)

CHEESE & DAIRY

  • We’re working with all of our national suppliers to encourage the use of non-GMO feed, as available.

  • We’ve pioneered new products from animals fed non-GMO feed (eggs, yogurt, milk).

SEAFOOD

  • We’ve reached out to all of our aquaculture suppliers to discuss GMO ingredients in feed.

  • We are working to launch Non-GMO Project Verified seafood products.

  • Most feed for farmed fish contains grains like corn, soy, or wheat and GMOs are prevalent in the U.S. commodity grain market. However, a significant amount of Whole Foods Market's farmed seafood comes from Europe where GMOs are not as prevalent.

BODY CARE & SUPPLEMENTS

  • Due to a very complex supply chain, there are fewer organic and non-GMO verified body care and supplement products than food ones.

  • Despite this complexity, we offer over 600 organic body care products that are certified to the USDA Organic Standards or the NSF 305 Organic Personal Care Product Standards, both of which prohibit GMOs. We also offer a growing number of Non-GMO Project Verified body care products.

  • Higher risk soy- and corn-based ingredients and micro ingredients in supplements are more difficult to address. The supply of non-GMO sources is extremely limited for supplements. We are working closely with the supplement and body care industries to understand the very complex supply chain, identify areas of GMO risk and explore the use of GMO alternatives.

  • While this work takes place, we continue to grow the number of organic and Non-GMO Project Verified supplements we offer.

WINE & BEER

  • Grapes and the grains used to make beer are not typically GMO.

  • Wine and beer use yeast in their processing and many commercially available yeasts are GMO.

  • We continue to support and promote organic and biodynamic wines and organic beers.