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Whole Foods Expands Standards For Animal Welfare, Third-Party Certification

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Whole Foods Market is expanding its commitment to animal welfare by requiring additional products and species meet its quality standards for meat.

To support the effort, the company is increasing the number of approved third-party animal welfare programs that certify products sold in its stores.

According to Whole Foods Market, taking these steps will lead to increased accountability and transparency for humanely raised animals, as well as give more suppliers access to the grocer’s shelves.

“We have a legacy at Whole Foods Market of selling products customers can trust through our quality standards,” said Wes Rose, VP of perishables at Whole Foods Market. “Expanding the scope of our meat standards is just another step forward in providing high quality choices for our customers.”

The third-party programs include A Greener World’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved, Humane Farm Animal Care’s Certified Humane Raised and Handled and Regenerative Organic Alliance’s Regenerative Organic Certified.

These are in addition to the Global Animal Partnership’s Animal Welfare Certified program, which is required for all beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb and goat products in the meat service case. This will increase access to the market for farmers and ranchers around the world by allowing them to choose the certification program that best complements their farming systems.

[RELATED: UNFI Extends Distribution Partnership With Whole Foods Market]


The expanded certifications will support the recent addition of species not previously covered under the animal welfare policy, including bison, veal, venison, duck, goose and quail. In addition, all frozen, smoked, cooked and cured products sold in the meat department will be required to adhere to one of the approved third-party animal welfare programs for their ingredients.

Every product in the retailer’s meat department must meet Whole Foods Market’s quality standards that prohibit antibiotics, animal byproducts in feed, synthetic nitrates or nitrites and crates, cages and tethers. In addition, the company requires inspections for animal welfare at slaughter.

The grocer also requires no added hormones through feed, injections, implants or any other method. While federal regulations allow the use of hormones when raising cattle, pigs and lambs, Whole Foods Market does not.

By 2026, customers will find the program logo or seal on product packaging, shelf strips or scale tags for all items in the meat department confirming they are animal welfare certified.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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