The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program
I rarely go to Whole Foods Market. I haven’t lived near one, nor worked near one and thus never bother to go. However, things are changing over the next few months and I will soon have access to a Whole Foods Market so I thought it worth looking into. I was quite pleased to find that Whole Foods has partnered with Global Animal Partnership (GAP) to certify Whole Food’s producer’s practices according to their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program.
First off, props to Whole Foods. After looking through the 5-Step Program it seems to be an simple and effective means of getting across to the consumer how the animals that they are consuming are treated and cared for. I look forward to purchasing some foodstuffs from them once I have better access.
So on the actual 5 Step plan itself, it seems that once in Whole Foods different foodstuffs will have different labels specifying whether the product is a Step 1, Step 2, … Step 5+ with Step 5+ being the max level of care you can have. In looking at GAP’s website here is a table below that shows how many operations they have for each step; which will probably match the likely hood of finding that particular step in Whole Foods. Meaning, it may be hard to find Step 5 or 5+ but easy to find Steps 3 and 4 for most animals.
Also, check out this short video produced by the Global Animal Partnership. They go through all the steps:
- Step 1: No Cages, Crating or Crowding
- Chickens: Be able to spread their wings and preen without touching other birds
- Pigs: No more than 25% of floor is slatted; bedding required; no Tethers or gestation stalls
- Beef Cattle: 50% Vegetative cover on range/pasture; 2/3min life on pasture
- Step 2: Enriched Environment
- Chickens: Cover or Blinds in Housing to isolate themselves
- Pigs: Changed limits on allowed lameness, weaning age, and max transport time
- Beef Cattle: Objects must be provided for grooming/scratching (natural behavior)
- Step 3: Enhanced Outdoor Access
- Chickens: Shade required; continuous outdoor access; indoor foraging area during harsh seasons
- Pigs: Continuous outdoor access; enrichments required that encourage foraging.
- Beef Cattle: No step 3 for Beef Cattle
- Step 4: Pasture Centered
- Chickens: Access to 50% vegetative cover pasture
- Pigs: Access to 25% vegetative pasture during allowable seasons; access to wallows
- Beef Cattle: 3/4min life on pasture;
- Step 5: Animal Centered, no Physical Alterations
- Chickens: 75% vegetative pasture; birds must be able to perch
- Pigs: 50% vegetative pasture; pigs remain with litter mates for entire life
- Beef Cattle: 75% vegetative pasture; no branding/ear notching
- Step 5+: Lives Entire Life on Same Farm
- Chickens: Birds must be bred, hatched and raised on the same farm.
- Pigs: On-farm or local slaughter
- Beef Cattle: On-farm or local slaughter
- Whole Foods Market – 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating Program Brochure (PDF)
- Global Animal Partnership – The 5-Step Program
- Food Link – 5 Step Plan: Veganism, marketing or education?