Aimed to address growing concerns about farm animal welfare, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system is the signature program of the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership. The rating system identifies incrementally higher welfare practices and conditions within farm animal production systems. Independent third-party certifiers audit and rate farms' animal welfare practices and conditions using a tiered system that ranges from Step 1 (no crates, cages, or crowding) to Step 5+ (animals spend their entire lives on one farm).
Whole Foods Market is the first retailer to adopt the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system. With the goal of improving the lives of farm animals, the company began rolling out the system in February 2011. To date, more than 1,300 farms and ranches have been certified, affecting approximately 140 million farm animals. Signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these Step ratings.
"Whole Foods Market has worked hand-in-hand with our producers for many years to encourage a humane approach to raising animals. Now, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system provides a way to engage and reward these producers by promoting continuous improvement in farm animal welfare," said Anne Malleau, global animal production and welfare coordinator for Whole Foods Market. "This rating system also informs our customers about how the animals are raised for the meat they are buying."
The company is working to certify further processed meats like bacon and ham to the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system. Additional species will be rated as Global Animal Partnership standards are completed.
Source: Whole Foods Market