People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Inc. (PETA) has filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods Market claiming the grocery chain’s “5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating System” is a “sham” because Whole Foods fails to enforce the program against its chicken, turkey, pork and beef suppliers. PETA v. Whole Foods Mkt., Inc., No. 15-4301 (N.D. Cal., filed September 21, 2015).
The complaint asserts that “the entire audit process for Whole Foods’ animal welfare standards is a sham because it occurs infrequently and violations of the standards do not cause loss of certification. Indeed, a supplier can be out of compliance for multiple years without losing its certification.” Further, the certification standards “barely exceed common industry practices, if at all.” The complaint coincides with an investigative report from PETA that purportedly exposes several program violations at a Pennsylvania pig farm that supplies to Whole Foods.
“‘Humane meat’ is a myth that dupes well-intentioned shoppers into paying higher prices for the very products of crowding, lingering death, and suffering that they were trying to avoid,” PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman said in a September 21, 2015, blog post about the lawsuit. The organization and its co-plaintiff, a woman who has shopped at Whole Foods, seek class certification, declaratory judgment, an injunction and damages for allegations of California’s consumerprotection statutes.