5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Standards: Frequently Asked Questions


What is Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Standards?

It is a tiered rating system developed to rank animal welfare practices and conditions within farm-animal production systems.

How does it work?

The ratings are determined by independent third-party certifiers using auditors trained by Global Animal Partnership. These auditors use specific criteria to evaluate animal health and well-being, handling, living conditions and transportation. It's important to note that getting to Step 1 is a great accomplishment! Currently Global Animal Partnership has released standards for beef cattle, pigs, and broiler chickens.


What is the relationship between Global Animal Partnership and Whole Foods Market?

Global Animal Partnership is a non-profit organization that developed the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards we are implementing. Whole Foods Market has been involved from the beginning. Board members include representatives from diverse sectors including farming and ranching, animal welfare advocacy, science and retail. John Mackey, Whole Foods Market's co-founder and co-CEO, currently serves on Global Animal Partnership's Board of Directors.


Why is Whole Foods Market implementing these standards?

Because this program supports and recognizes farmers and ranchers for their commitment to animal welfare, identifies a pathway for incremental and meaningful improvement, and provides transparency by informing customers how the animals are raised for the meat they are purchasing in our meat departments.


How can I find Step-rated products in my local store?

The Step rating for all our beef, pork and chicken will be identified with color-coded signs and stickers in the fresh meat and pre-pack cases. You can also ask one of our meat department team members to show you the Step-rated products available at your local store.


What about the other meats that aren't Step-rated?

When Global Animal Partnership has published standards for other species, we will require those producers to be Step-rated, too. In the meantime, rest assured that Whole Foods Market is diligent in making sure the farms and ranches meet our quality standards.


Is it related to organic certification?

No. This is about animal welfare. An organic standard is based on completely different criteria. However, some of our Step-rated meats are also certified organic.


What about Canada and the U.K.?

We are working to adopt these standards in Canada. In the U.K., we are currently using a similar Whole Foods Market 5-Step program.