Our Quality Standards: We Don’t Sell Just Anything

Here’s the inside scoop on some of our most fundamental Quality Standards and why what you find in our stores is different than anywhere else.

We don’t sell just anything. Really. Everything in our stores has to meet our established quality standards, or we don’t carry it. You can get lots of details on our Quality Standards, but here are a few highlights:

  • 100+ banned ingredients from all food that we sell, including hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup and sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin.

  • 100+ animal welfare standards for fresh beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey. No antibiotics, ever.

  • No synthetic nitrates added to meat.

  • Eggs from hens that are cage-free or better.

  • 100 + banned body care ingredients and counting.

  • Wild-caught seafood rated for sustainability.

  • Responsibly farmed seafood.

  • 100+ banned household cleaner ingredients including phosphates, phthalates, FD&C colors and optical brighteners.

So, how do we decide what we do and don’t sell? It’s the job of the experts on our Quality Standards team to review ingredients or production methods, and they really dig into the details. They want to know why it’s used, what’s the purpose and if it’s necessary. They turn to scientific and medical studies, government reports, industry technical experts, manufacturers and others to guide their work. Because they know that Whole Foods Market’s standards not only influence what goes on our store shelves, but also influence the way that food is grown, processed and regulated around the world, they take their responsibility very seriously.

They’re also keenly aware that every decision they make impacts our customers. But unlike many other stores, we consider ourselves buying agents for our shoppers, not sales agents for manufacturers. And sometimes Whole Foods Market has to make some hard calls — like not selling red-rated seafood — because it’s the right thing to do even if it might cost us some sales.

Developing standards isn’t a simple process, but it’s important to get it right. When we established standards for animal welfare, for example, we brought ranchers, producers, scientists and animal welfare advocates to the table so we could all learn from each other. It took hard work, and lots of meetings, but the resulting animal welfare standards changed the industry and improved the lives of farm animals.

The bottom line: We want you to feel good about picking up any product and shopping with peace of mind — without having to read the fine print.

Of course, you may have specific personal or health reasons for eating or not eating certain foods, and we support all kinds of diets and food choices. But our standards give you a leg up on whatever choices you want to make.

You can explore our Quality Standards to learn more about what we do and don’t sell. Are there specific standards that mean the most to you? We’d love to hear what they are and why.

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