Animal Welfare Standards

At Whole Foods Market, we're dedicated to helping you make informed choices about the food you eat. It's often easy to forget that the burger, steak or drumstick on your plate was once an animal. How was that animal raised? How was it treated? Where did it come from? What about added hormones and antibiotics? Was its growth artificially accelerated to get to market sooner and reduce feed cost? We are committed to answering these questions.

The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards

We work with the Global Animal Partnership to certify our producers' animal welfare practices. We've rolled out their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards in every Whole Foods Market store in the United States and Canada!

Global Animal Partnership is a non-profit organization dedicated to continually improving the lives of farm animals. They have developed the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards that rate how pigs, chickens, turkeys, lambs and cattle are raised for meat. Standards for other species are in development, so stay tuned and be sure to look for the ratings the next time you stop by our meat department.

It's important to note that getting to Step 1 is a great accomplishment! Step 1 requires more from our farmers and ranchers than we have ever asked before. The Step ratings are assigned by independent third-party certifiers using auditors trained by Global Animal Partnership.

Look for this rating system when you choose our beef, pork, chicken, lamb or turkey. It's your way of knowing how the animals were raised for the meat you are buying.


Step 1

No crates, no cages, no crowding

Animals live their lives with more space to move around and stretch their legs.

Step 2

Enriched environment

Animals are provided with enrichments that encourage behavior that's natural to them — like a bale of straw for chickens to peck at, a bowling ball for pigs to shove around, or a sturdy object for cattle to rub against.

Step 3

Enhanced outdoor access

Pigs, chickens and turkeys might live in buildings but they all — yes, each and every one of them — have access to outdoor areas.

Step 4

Pasture centered

When living outdoors, chickens and turkeys get to forage, pigs get to wallow and cattle get to roam.

Step 5

Animal centered; all physical alterations prohibited

At Step 5 the well-being of the animals is the primary focus; efficiency and economy are secondary.

Step 5+

Animal centered; entire life on same farm

Animals raised to Step 5+ standards must be born and live their entire lives on one farm.


For more detailed information on each Step, and species-specific welfare information, visit the Global Animal Partnership website.