Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Our meat: No antibiotics, EVER!

This week, the CBS Evening News is airing a two-part story on antibiotics in food, the result of a three-month investigation by Katie Couric. It’s a story worth watching. Couric raises many concerns about the practice of giving antibiotics to food animals, primarily the worry that this practice may lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can put human health at risk. As the national meat buyer for Whole Foods Market, I can assure our customers that our standard is: No antibiotics, EVER! We work very hard to make sure that the people who produce our meat have raised their animals without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones* or animal byproducts in the feed. According to Couric, for the past 60 years antibiotics have been used to create efficiencies in meat production.  Antibiotics are added to the animals’ feed or water to prevent infection that can occur when animals are crowded in confined areas.  As well, antibiotics given in this manner promote rapid growth. For instance, conventionally raised cattle are ready for market in about 16 to 17 months, while cattle raised without antibiotics don’t leave the farm until they’re 20 to 24 months old. The extended growth period is a more expensive prospect for a farmer or rancher, but one we feel is well worth it. At Whole Foods Market, finding farmers who go the extra mile and raise their animals without depending on antibiotics is simply what we do. We visit farms and ranches, meeting with the farmers to make sure they meet our standards. I hear that two producers who have been working with Whole Foods Market for more than 15 years will be featured in the second part of Couric’s report.  We are pleased to partner with innovative farmers who have been raising animals without using antibiotics for many years, like Paul Willis of Niman Ranch and Duane Koch of the Koch Turkey Farm. Personally, I think you can taste the difference in our meat.  But don’t take it from me – try it yourself! Come by your local Whole Foods Market and ask our in-store butchers about our meat – the best-tasting beef, pork, and poultry you’ll find in a grocery store! *Federal regulations prohibit the use of growth hormones in raising pigs, veal calves, bison and poultry.