‘Humane’ Meat Claims at Whole Foods Called Out by PETA in Shareholder Resolution


For Immediate Release:
December 14, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

Seattle – In a new shareholder resolution submitted today, PETA is challenging Whole Foods’ purported “rigorous standards” for animal welfare and asking the company to evaluate its requirements and auditing procedures following evidence of rampant cruelty among the company’s former self-proclaimed “humane” meat suppliers.

A PETA exposé of Plainville Farms, a former supplier to Whole Foods that touted itself as “humane,” resulted in a total of 141 counts of cruelty to animals charges against 12 former workers. The group’s undercover investigation showed workers kicking and stomping on turkeys, including birds who were sick, injured, and unable to walk. After failing to break their necks, workers left the birds to convulse and die in agony on the shed floor. Workers threw hens at one another like basketballs, one worker pretended to masturbate with a dying bird, and another sat on and pretended to rape a live turkey. Altogether, PETA has found evidence of abuse at 11 turkey and pig farms certified by the “humane” program supported by Whole Foods.

“Abuse runs rampant at Whole Foods’ purportedly ‘humane’ suppliers, where animals raised in filth endure crowded confinement, parts of birds’ beaks are cut off to prevent stress-induced cannibalism, and bloody wounds are left to fester,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “After repeated investigations have exposed extreme abuse of the animals Whole Foods claims to protect, PETA is asking shareholders to require the company to report on how its meaningless standards are failing to protect animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—submitted its resolution on behalf of a member who is a Whole Foods shareholder. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

The full text of PETA’s resolution is below.

WHEREAS: Whole Foods has long marketed its meat and other animal-derived products as coming from animals who enjoy the highest standards of animal welfare. On its website, the company claims the following:

  • “Our baseline requirements for our Meat department are stronger than most anywhere. If it doesn’t meet our standards, we won’t sell it.”
  • “Animal producers must meet our standards for how the animals are raised, transported and slaughtered.”
  • “A traceable audit system is required that tracks animals from birth to slaughter.”

Despite such proclamations, Whole Foods has a history of selling animal-derived products from suppliers implicated in an array of atrocities.

At Whole Foods’ self-proclaimed supplier of “happy meat,” Sweet Stem Farm, sick and injured pigs languished for weeks without veterinary care, several with grotesque and bloody rectal prolapses. Chickens at Nellie’s Free Range Eggs were crammed together so tightly that visitors found it difficult to avoid stepping on them. The tips of these birds’ beaks had been cut off to prevent stress-induced cannibalism. Dead and languishing birds were trapped in feces up to half a foot deep at Diestel Turkey Ranch and Petaluma Egg Farm.

Most recently, Pennsylvania State Police filed 141 cruelty charges—including six felonies—against 12 former workers at Plainville Farms, a company that claims to produce “humane” turkey in a “stress-free environment.” The charges stemmed from PETA’s 2021 investigation into the former Whole Foods supplier. Horrifying video showed workers repeatedly and viciously kicking and stomping on turkeys on a nightly basis. A supervisor himself kicked turkeys and berated PETA’s investigator for refusing to take part in the abuse. Birds convulsed in agony after workers tried but failed to break their necks. Every night, dead and dying turkeys littered concrete barn floors. Workers clubbed turkeys with a heavy iron bar and stood on their heads. They violently shook and choked terrified turkeys. Two workers were recorded mimicking masturbation and rape with injured and dying birds.

The cruelty uncovered was so severe that it resulted in the most charges and defendants in any case of cruelty to factory-farmed animals in U.S. history.

Whole Foods’ history of selling meat and other animal-derived products from suppliers in blatant violation of its animal welfare standards jeopardizes our company’s reputation. It also presents risk to the company in light of the public’s increasing desire to pay more for meat, eggs, and dairy advertised to be from animals who were treated humanely. Consequently, it is vital that our company issue a report to shareholders transparently evaluating its “highest standards of animal welfare” and “audit system” that have failed to prevent cruelty in the company’s supply chain.

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Amazon.com Inc. issue a report prior to December 31, 2023, evaluating the efficacy and shortcomings of Whole Foods’ animal welfare standards and auditing procedures. The report should omit confidential and privileged information and be prepared at a reasonable expense.


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