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Whole Foods Market Releases More Rigorous Animal Welfare Standards

Grocer expands standards for animal welfare and 3rd-party certifications
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Whole Foods Meat Counter
More products and species are now required to meet Whole Foods' animal welfare standards.

Whole Foods Market is furthering its commitment to animal welfare by requiring additional products and species to meet its quality standards for meat. The company is increasing the number of approved third-party animal welfare programs that certify products sold in its stores to support the expanded scope.

Implementing these measures will facilitate increased accountability and transparency for humanely raised animals, as well as give more suppliers access to Whole Foods’ shelves.

The newly approved 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. The newly approved third-party programs are in addition to the Global Animal Partnership’s Animal Welfare Certified program, which is currently 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 suppliers to choose the certification program that best complements their farming system.

[RELATED: Whole Foods Market CEO Shares Regenerative Message at Milken Institute Conference]

These 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. Additionally, 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 the meat ingredients in these items.

“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. “Expanding the scope of our meat standards is just another step forward in providing high-quality choices for our customers.”

Every product in the retailer’s meat department is already required to meet Whole Foods’ existing quality standards of no antibiotics ever, no animal byproducts in feed, no synthetic nitrates or nitrites, required inspections for animal welfare at slaughter, and no crates, cages or tethers. Whole Foods 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 doesn’t.

In 2026, in addition to the company’s existing meat quality standards, customers can find the program logo or seal on product packaging, shelf strips or scale tags for all products in the meat department to confirm that the product is animal welfare certified. 

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 530 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2024 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Both Whole Foods and Amazon were named among PG’s Retailers of the Century. PG also named Whole Foods one of its 2024 Top 10 Sustainable Grocers

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