The companies say that these additional strict guidelines will help reduce potential environmental impacts and will require vendor partners to successfully pass an independent, third-party audit that reviews every detail of the standards.
“For years our seafood standards made us a leader in our industry. Now, we have taken an additional step by embarking on an intensive process to further develop and enhance our farmed seafood standards,” said Carrie Brownstein, seafood quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market.
“By working closely with the farmers who produce the highest quality farmed seafood for our shoppers, Whole Foods Market is proud to set the bar even higher.”
Whole Foods Market’s quality standards team says they spent two years researching every aspect of fish farming, seeking to minimize environmental impacts while sourcing the healthiest, highest quality fish. According to them, the best available science was evaluated and experts - including fish farmers, government and academic scientists, and environmental groups - were consulted. Additionally, the team visited farms all over the world to see aquaculture practices first hand and learn about the most innovative techniques.
To date, Whole Foods Market’s quality standards already had 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. The enhanced aquaculture standards include these additions:
- 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 the 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 policy. "When a leading retailer like Whole Foods Market makes this kind of commitment to standards for farmed seafood, suppliers around the world will work to meet the requirements.”
To ensure that fish farmers adhere to Whole Foods Market’s strict standards for aquaculture, all will be required to successfully pass an independent third-party audit that reviews every detail of the standards.
Norway’s Villa Organic is one of a handful of the Company’s innovative salmon farmers. “There is no doubt that Whole Foods Market’s aquaculture standards are the strongest among all supermarkets,” said Johan Andreassen, CEO and co-founder of Villa Organic. “Producers who want to supply farmed salmon to Whole Foods Market must be dedicated to moving the salmon industry in the right direction. We are proud to be a part of that move and look forward to supplying the Whole Foods Market shopper with some of the best salmon out there so that they can shop responsibly for themselves and the environment."
“Aquaculture consumption is on the rise worldwide and will continue to play an important role as a key global food source for the future,” said David Pilat, global seafood coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “Our mission is to steer aquaculture in the right direction. The farmed seafood at Whole Foods Market, which can include shrimp, tilapia, catfish, trout, salmon and Arctic char, not only provides a consistent, high quality, year-round supply of healthy and delicious protein, but it also is raised by farmers working hard to become the leaders in environmentally responsible aquaculture.”