AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market here has introduced a new tiered, 5-step Animal Welfare Rating system developed by the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit organization focused on improvements in animal agriculture.
At minimum, all of the company's meat suppliers must raise animals on a vegetarian diet without the use of antibiotics or artificial hormones. "Step 1" rated farms do not use crates or cages, and their animals live in uncrowded conditions. "Step 5+", the highest rating, is awarded to animal-centered farms where animals are raised from birth to slaughter on a single farm. ³
"Producers need to meet approximately 100 requirements to get a Step 1 certification, so achieving the first level is a remarkable accomplishment," Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods, said in a company announcement.
The system will make the company's sourcing policies more transparent, and will offer Whole Foods shoppers a way to make more informed choices at the meat counter, the company said.
More than 1,200 farms and ranches that supply the company have already received certification under the new Step system.