Whole Foods' Farmed Seafood Standards Reviewed

Whole Foods' Farmed Seafood Standards Reviewed

The Environmental Law Institute and The Ocean Foundation praised Whole Foods' recently published farmed seafood purchasing standards but also said the grocery chain could take steps to improve them, such as increasing transparency.

In July, Whole Foods Market announced that it had established enhanced standards for farmed seafood sold at its 270 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The new guidelines, which are aimed at reducing the environmental impact of aquaculture production, cover the purchase of farmed salmon, other finfish and shrimp. The standards include "farm-to-fork" traceability, prohibit the use of toxic chemicals and require vendors to pass an independent third-party audit for compliance with the grocery chain's guidelines.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and The Ocean Foundation (TOC) said last week that the nonprofits had compared Whole Foods' standards with the "Gold Standard for Aquaculture Ecolabel Design," which the ELI and TOC recently published.

In their review, the nonprofits said that by publishing its standards, Whole Foods took "a commendable step toward reducing the environmental and social impacts of aquaculture production and demonstrates that sustainability — not current industry practice — is the benchmark for responsible aquaculture practices." The organizations also recommended steps for retailer to "improve the credibility of its quality standards."

The review suggested that the grocery chain address all impacts of production to "ensure that its existing standards are fully sustainable" and comply with international standards. The review also recommended that Whole Foods increase transparency by publishing procedures for setting standards, certifying vendors and resolving disputes. In addition, the review suggested that the retailer extend its involvement of stakeholders to include environmental and community NGOs and experts from academia, among others, and create a public forum for stakeholder feedback.