Looking for the best steak or burger for a Father’s Day celebration, summer gathering or grilling extravaganza? Look no further than Whole Foods Market. 

You probably already know our meat tastes great, so that’s simply a given. But if you are concerned about antibiotic use, added hormones*, animal byproducts in feed or animal welfare, then choosing meat from us means you are getting meat from animals raised to high standards that address all of those things.

Want to go further? We offer local, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO fed and more.

The starting point is our Meat Quality Standards. Every single piece of meat we sell must come from an animal raised to meet standards that go well beyond what you’ll find anywhere else:

  • No antibiotics, ever.
  • No added hormones.*
  • No animal byproducts in feed.
  • Beta agonists, drugs used to enhance growth, are prohibited.
  • Animal welfare standards for all species, including ensuring animals have enough space to perform their normal behaviors and prohibiting tethering or confinement that prevents freedom of movement.
  • Third party audits for animal welfare at slaughter plants.
  • Third party audits for food safety at slaughter and processing plants.

*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pigs, poultry, goats, veal calves, and bison.

Want to know more details? Here goes.

Animal Welfare

The beef, pork, chicken and turkey in our meat departments comes from farms that have and ranches that have been 3rd party audited and achieved certification to the Global Animal Partnership 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating program.

At Step 1, farmers must focus intently on the welfare of the animals and meet some 100+ species-specific standards, which raises the bar above conventional animal agriculture practices.

Each successive Step requires more animal-centered practices. 

If you’d like to know more, you can read the detailed criteria for each of these steps.

We’ve been passionate about animal welfare for quite some time, leading to our work since 2002 with world-renowned scientist and animal-welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin to ensure animal welfare with slaughter standards. Our partnership with her as well as with a multitude of other notable animal welfare scientists has continued through all our animal welfare programs.

Organic and Non-GMO

GMOs are prevalent in the commodity grain market — 94% of soy and 88% of corn crops — so there’s a limited availability of verified non-GMO feed at this time.

Some of our local and regional suppliers are in the process of becoming Non-GMO Project Verified.

Certified organic meat is also an excellent choice. US National Organic Standards require the animals were not fed genetically engineered crops like soy, corn or alfalfa. Simply put: an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn.

If GMOs are a concern for you, choose organic or Non-GMO Project Verified items.

Grass-Fed and Pasture-Raised

We partner with ranchers who raise 100% grass-fed or pastured livestock. A Global Animal Partnership’s Step 4 Rating ensures high quality beef that is never finished in a feedlot.


Interested in local meats? Ask a meat department team member in your store about which items in the meat case are local. You can also check out our Local Producer Loan Program, which provides up to $10 million in low-interest loans to small, local producers.

Got a summer celebration coming up? What meat will you be serving?

Originally published May 2014. Updated May 2015.

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