Whole Foods has tried to change not just the way we shop, but the way the world sells meat as well. The high-end grocery chain created a five step meat rating system to ensure shoppers know what they are buying, but now PETA, the animal rights advocates, are accusing Whole Foods of laxness when it comes to that same system.

In fact, PETA has filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods claiming that the humane meat range they have created is “deceptive and misleading.” Whole Foods, of course, has disagreed with the claim.

Rating Humane Meat

Whole Foods specializes in selling high end foods, usually at a premium. The range of meat products is an excellent example of this. The grocery store has created five steps for the meat the stores sell. The meat at each level is marked clearly so that buyers know what they are buying and so that suppliers have an incentive to up their game, providing even higher quality meat for higher prices.

To even make it on the scale of high quality meat with a level 1, suppliers have to raise meat with “no cages, no crates, no crowding.” The scale continues up to a level 5 ranking which requires animals living on the same farm their entire lives and spending copious amounts of time outside. Whole Foods hopes that by letting customers know exactly how well the animals are treated that become hamburgers and steaks for the table, those same companies will feel some pressure to treat animals even better.

PETA disagrees.

The PETA Lawsuit against Whole Foods

PETA claims that Whole Foods may have started the system in good faith, but in reality the store practices “barely exceed common industry practices”. In fact, the suppliers for Whole Foods are only monitored and audited every fifteen months, and the inspection is allegedly so relaxed it’s impossible to tell just how well the animals are really treated.

PETA claims that the meat ranking system isn’t really about letting customers make good purchasing decisions, but instead about inflating prices based on a fraudulent system created for that purpose.

Whole Foods has fought back already in the media, however, by pointing out that PETA is probably not the best advocate for pricing cuts of meat in the grocery store. After all, as Whole Foods representative Michael Silverman points out, “it is important to remember that PETA’s mission is a total end to animal agriculture and animal meat consumption, and their claims against our business are generated with that specific goal in mind.”

The spokesman went on to point out what he calls deception by PETA in the filming of one of the company’s suppliers.

Its’ hard to know what to believe, of course, but Whole Foods is right about one thing. PETA wants the world to stop raising and eating animals. It’s hard to take their claims at face value. But then there are plenty of frustrated customers in Whole Foods who might not think it’s much of a stretch to find out there was some deception with meat packaging.



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