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Whole Foods Market is testing a new humane meat rating system that is scheduled for national rollout early next year, according to The Chicago Tribune. If all goes as planned, the six-step, color-coded labeling system will allow shoppers varying levels of specificity in choosing meat to match their principles and personal preferences.
Developed by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) -- a nonprofit group made up of farmers, scientists, retailers, sustainability experts and animal welfare advocates -- the new rating system will address growing consumer concerns over the way farm animals are raised. Such a move could also increase sales for certified farmers and participating stores, which are likely to include another unidentified major national retailer and restaurant group in the coming year, according to Washington-based GAP.
The move follows on the heels of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods’ mid-September launch of a similar in-store color-coded sustainability rating system for wild-caught seafood.
Teaming with Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, Whole Foods says it is the first national grocer to provide a comprehensive, science-based sustainability rating system for wild-caught seafood. The system’s green, yellow and red ratings aim to help shoppers make informed choices at the seafood case. Green or “best choice” ratings indicate a species is relatively abundant and caught using environmentally friendly methods; yellow or “good alternative” ratings mean some concerns exist with the species’ status or catch methods; and red or “avoid” ratings mean that for now, the species is suffering from overfishing, or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats.
The seafood rating system initiative expands upon the sustainable seafood program that Whole Foods has had with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 1999, and the new ratings apply only to non-MSC-certified fish.