Whole Foods Market Inc. announced an animal welfare rating system in order to assist shoppers in finding out more about where their meat originates from and also the conditions in which the animal was raised.
The system provides information and a ranking for beef, pork and chicken.
With the system, independent, third-parties audit farms and give a rating to the animal welfare practices which occur during the farming process – these ratings are between ‘1’ up and ‘5-plus’.
Each set of tiered standards – from Step 1 to Step 5+ – has its own requirements that must be met before certification to that particular Step level is assigned, if appropriate. Producers have the freedom to aim for any Step level they choose. Each Step rating has its own distinct labelthat identifies the particular Step level achieved.
Step 1 prohibits cages and crates.
Step 2 requires environmental enrichment for indoor production systems;
Step 3, outdoor access;
Step 4, pasture-based production;
Step 5, an animal-centered approach with all physical alterations prohibited; and, finally,
Step 5+, the entire life of the animal spent on an integrated farm. (for more info on the 4 Step programme, click here)
According to Whole Foods, over 1,200 farms and ranches which provide its stores with products have received certification thus far. Consumers are able to see color-coded signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments so that the ratings are easily recognised.
The animal welfare rating system was designed by the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership.