WFM FOCUSED ON ANIMAL WELFARE
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market has announced plans to roll out a detailed animal welfare grading system in its meat departments. Developed by the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit group of farmers, retailers, animal welfare advocates and sustainability experts, the system has been tested at Whole Foods locations in the South. The company plans to expand the program nationally beginning early next year. Using a six-step approach, the GAP system establishes baseline animal welfare standards for all meats sold at Whole Foods, and gives producers the opportunity to earn higher ratings based on a set of benchmarks. For example, minimal standards for chicken begin with a free-range requirement, and include provisions regarding feed and antibiotics. By contrast, the highest-rated chickens would be free-range chickens hatched, raised and slaughtered on a single farm covered with at least 75% vegetation, among other rigorous requirements. Related standards focusing on animal comfort and pasture time are in place for pork and beef as well. Similarly, the highest ratings for those meats have provisions requiring animals to live from birth through slaughter at a single farm.
NOAA OPENS MORE OF THE GULF
WASHINGTON — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has reopened 8,403 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial and recreational fishing. The area, which extends from the Louisiana state water line to due south of the Alabama/Florida state line, represents 89% of the waters that were still off-limits for fishing as of late October. Almost all of the Gulf, with the exception of 1,000 square miles immediately surrounding the wellhead of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, has now been reopened. Officials said that chemical and sensory tests have found no detectable oil or dispersant odors or flavors, and that chemical analysis has found that the presence of oil-related compounds is well below the level of concern.
SCHOOL SALAD BARS GET BOOST
MIAMI — A new public-private partnership called “Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools” was announced last week at Riverside Elementary School here. The new program, launched by the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, the United Fresh Produce Association Foundation, and the Food, Family, Farming Foundation (F3), has been established with the goal of providing at least 6,000 salad bars to U.S. schools during the next three years. United Fresh has been advocating for this cause with its “A Salad Bar in Every School” campaign. Most nutritionists believe that giving children better access to fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age can help cultivate healthy eating habits that stick through adulthood.