Whole Foods Provides Transparent Turkey-raising Practices

Whole Foods Market Thanksgiving shoppers can learn exactly how the turkeys they select for their holiday meals were raised, thanks to Global Animal Partnership’s (GAP) 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating, which is in place chain-wide.

“What makes the GAP program unique is that it outlines minimum animal welfare standards for our suppliers, provides transparency for our customers, and explains incremental changes suppliers can make to continue improving the lives of their animals,” said Anne Malleau, assistant global meat coordinator for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “Animals raised in an environment that encourages them to perform their natural behaviors are animals ‘raised to taste better.’”

Whole Foods Market is the first national retailer to offer full transparency in regards to raising practices for turkeys sold in the meat department, according to the retailer.

Global Animal Partnership is a multi-stakeholder non-profit aiming to improve farm animal welfare by setting guidelines for raising practices and animal management in the form of the tiered 5-Step system. Whole Foods began using 5-Step ratings in 2011 on beef, pork and chicken sold in meat departments to provide customers with information about the way animals were raised. This year, GAP announced new standards for turkey.

At Step 1, turkeys are raised without crates, cages or crowding, as well as more than 125 other requirements. Beyond Step 1, each successive step requires more animal-focused practices. Here’s a summary of the steps:

  • Step 1: no crates, cages, no crowding
  • Step 2: enriched environment (things to do!)
  • Step 3: enhanced outdoor access
  • Step 4: pasture centered
  • Step 5: animal centered, no physical alterations, entire life on the same farm

Whole Foods Market’s quality standards for all meat also require that animals are raised without antibiotics.

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