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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

Tiffani kline says …

Hello, I was recently at a whole foods store and was told that whole foods has never carried ocean farm raised salmon. I was under the impression that whole foods carried an ocean farm raised salmon from New Zealand...do you have any information regarding my question? Thank you, Tiffani kline

Cristina says …

Not sure if I am missing it on your site, but do any of your fresh or frozen fish have preservatives added to them?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CRISTINA - We do not allow any artificial colors or preservatives in any products we carry in our stores. Our seafood is free from added preservatives such as sodium bisulfite, sodium tri-polyphosphate (STP) and sodium metabisulfite.

Bud Keyes says …

Do your salmon farms use astaxanthin or some other product to give the Salmon an orange color rather than fish farm gray?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BUD - Astaxanthin is an acceptable item for our products since it's found naturally in salmon, shrimp, and other seafood which obtain it from algae which produce the pigment. To give farmed fish like salmon the reddish color that customers expect, farmers purchase feed that has carotenoid pigment added to it. Our Quality Standards for farmed seafood require that if pigment is used, it comes from a non-synthetic source. There are two sources of carotenoid pigment used by our producers today: Phaffia, which is sourced from a type of yeast and Panaferd, which is from a type of bacteria (specifically the bacterium Paracoccus carotinifaciens).

Lisa Kelso says …

Could you tell us specifically what your standards are? Do you have a copy of them you could post? The article above says you have "strict Whole Foods standards" and mentions categories of standards "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" but it doesn't actually say WHAT those standards are. For example..just because you have a standard on synthetic chemical use feed doesn't mean it's strict. It could say "you can use some but don't use too much." Yes, I'm joking, but I think you get the idea. I also don't see any mention of antibiotic use and whether or not you have standards for that. And if so, what are they? Antibiotic consumption is one of the biggest concerns regarding farmed salmon. Since your standards are so strict, why not let us in on them? It would give skeptics like me more confidence. Because right now your "Responsibly Farmed" logo sounds like a good marketing idea but is not actually backed up here by any real information. Thank you, Lisa Kelso

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LISA - We definitely have our standards posted. This is an older blog post so you can find a more recent post at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/truth-about-farmed-salmon-whole-foods-market. You can find the list of our standards at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/seafood-sustainability/aquaculture.

Be says …

I read through the older comments and would like to clarify what you say about PCBs. If you're using EPA standards, it sounds like what you're saying is that your fish has the same level of contamination as any farmed fish. Is that correct?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BE - If you’re concerned about PCBs, but would like to continue eating species like farmed salmon, we can recommend that you try either wild-caught salmon, which typically is lower in PCBs or try another species of farmed fish that is fed feed with less fish oil in it, such as catfish, tilapia, or molluscs, which do not receive any added feed at all. Our standards for farmed seafood do set a limit for contaminants, such as PCBs and we’re working with the individual farmers to meet the goals stated in the standards.

David Darell Galbraith says …

First of all let me state that I am a great fan of Whole Foods, and I see Whole foods as the greatest grocery store in its quality of healthy foods. However, you have not reached perfection, and one of my main fears is that the larger you get, the more of a bottom line corporate mindset may creep in. A deceptive mindset that I never expected to find at Whole Foods, and hope never to find at Whole Foods. That being said, in one of the comments there was a question about whether you are using corn in your fish feed. You replied that it was just "one ingredient" in the feed. I didn't care for this answer. I found it to be flippant. I have a very real concern about corn being used in your fish feed. That concern is, are you using corn from the 90% of corn grown that is GMO by Monsanto? If you are, is this corn just "one ingredient" in all your feeds for all of your farmed fish? I am also concerned about you replies about PCB's. What is Whole Foods doing to reduce the PCB's in farmed raised fish, and why is there more PCB's in farm raised than wild? Very Respectfully Submitted, David Darell Galbraith

David Darell Galbraith says …

May 16th, 2014 To : The Community Moderator Dear Nikki, First of all let me state that I am a great fan of Whole Foods, and I see Whole foods as the best grocery store because of its quality of healthy foods. However, you have not reached perfection, and one of my main fears is that the larger you get, the more a bottom line corporate mindset may creep in. A deceptive mindset that I never expected to find at Whole Foods, and hope never to find at Whole Foods. That being said, in one of the comments there was a question about whether you are using corn in your fish feed. You replied that it was just "one ingredient" in the feed. I didn't care for this answer. I have a very real concern about corn being used in your fish feed. My concern is, are you using corn from the 90% of corn grown that is GMO by Monsanto? If you are, is this corn just "one ingredient" in all your feeds for all of your farmed fish? I am also concerned about you replies about PCB's. What is the Whole Foods standard for allowable PCB', what are you doing to reduce the PCB's in farmed raised fish, and why are there more PCB's in farm raised than wild? Very Respectfully Submitted, David Darell Galbraith

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DAVID - My apologies for a delay in responding. It looks like you are referring to a response given by Carrie, the author. It is true that the farmed fish feed can be a mix of corn, alfalfa or soy, among other ingredients. In March 2013 that by 2018 all products in our U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether or not they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Our non-GMO labeling transparency initiative includes all the products we sell, going far beyond what any of the state initiatives and legislation have proposed so far. Products based on or containing ingredients created from government approved GMO crops will need to be labeled by manufacturers. This includes our aquaculture producers who will also need to verify by 2018 whether or not their feed contains GMO corn, soy or alfalfa. If you're looking to avoid GMOs in the seafood department you can do so even now by choosing wild-caught seafood or farmed molluscs, such as clams, oysters and mussels, which do not receive any supplemental feed on the farm. You will find more info about PCB's in one of my previous responses. Our standards for farmed seafood do set a limit for contaminants, such as PCBs and we’re working with the individual farmers to meet the goals stated in the standards.

PHYLLIS SIEGEL says …

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE SEPT.25 2014 REPORTS YOUR MIDWEST STORES ARE SUPPLIED BY A FARMER IN ICELAND. I LIVE IN THE BALTIMORE MD. AREA.I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHO ARE YOUR EAST COAST PROVIDERS AND ARE THEY HELD TO THE SAME STANDARDS

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@PHYLLIS - All of our farmed fish vendors must meet our standards in order to sell their products in our stores. The exact vendors will differ between regions, and of times, stores. If you reach out to your local store, the seafood team will be happy to let you know where they source whichever product you are looking for!

Laura says …

Where would I find info on what the fish were fed and about antibiotics?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAURA - Our quality standards for farmed fish prohibit the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones and poultry and mammalian by-products in feed.

polina says …

I read the ASSORTMENT of words supposedly describing what the Responsibly raised seafood means, HOWEVER it sure looks like a politician's answer without answer. What exactly your responsibly raised food if FED- that is my question and until I get a straight answer I will avoid it same way I avoid any farm raised chicken poops fed fish. In addition NOT ALL WHOLE FOODS product have the high standard you claim but definitely the most expansive store around .

Sofie says …

@paig292 I had read all comments and your replies and I have to tell you-your continues avoidance of giving straight answers as well as supply any factual data on the "experimental" responsibly raised seafood only thickens my suspicion . It is nothing else but the way to rob the consumer with inflated prices by pretending to offer higher quality product which is quite obviously not the case. Please do not underestimate the intelligence of health conscious people who are doing their research online .

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