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    Whole Foods Bows Strict Farmed Seafood Standards

    Natural and organic grocer said its new 'stringent aquaculture standards' will strengthen its offerings.

    Natural and organic foods leader Whole Foods Market said yesterday it has implemented enhanced standards for all farmed seafood sold at its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

    The new guidelines will build upon an existing program help reduce potential environmental impacts, and will require vendor partners to pass an audit by an independent, third-party that reviews every detail of vendors' operations, the Austin, Texas-based grocer said.

    To date, Whole Foods' quality standards already have d prohibited the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, preservatives such as sulfites, poultry and mammalian by-products in feed; and genetically modified or cloned seafood.

    Under the latest beefed-up aquaculture standards:
    -- Producers are required to minimize the impacts of fish farming on the environment by protecting sensitive habitats such as mangrove forests and wetlands, monitoring water quality to prevent pollution, and sourcing feed ingredients responsibly
    -- Producers must provide detailed information on farming practices and pass independent third-party audits
    -- Farm-to-fork traceability is required, from the hatcheries where young fish and shrimp are first hatched, to the ponds, pens, raceways, or tanks where they are raised, and to the plants where they are processed
    -- Toxic chemicals such as malachite green and organophosphate pesticides are prohibited

    "Whole Foods Market's new aquaculture purchasing policy sets a high bar for food retailers eager to provide healthy, ocean-friendly seafood for consumers across the country," said Becky Goldburg, a senior scientist with Environmental Defense Fund, which contributed to the creation of the standards. "When a leading retailer like Whole Foods makes this kind of commitment to standards for farmed seafood, suppliers around the world will work to meet the requirements."

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