Fish bought at Whole Foods markets will have to be third-party certified to ensure that the seafood is farmed in a sustainable way that doesn't damage the environment.
Whole Foods, which has 270 stores nationwide frequented by shoppers looking for natural and organic alternatives to foods available in supermarket chains, announced its new policy Thursday.
A Whole Foods team developed the new standards over two years, in conjunction with industry, government and independent scientific sources.
Seafood for sale at Whole Foods had already been free of artificial growth hormones, antibiotics and preservatives, and the fish feed had been free of poultry and mammalian by-products and genetically modified or cloned seafood.
The new policy includes these standards, in the words of Whole Foods:
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 predicted a Wal-Mart Effect, wherein their policy would affect the entire industry because they are such an influential buyer of farmed seafood products. Wal-Mart has of late made several changes to its supply chain requirements to cut down on waste, packaging and fuel use that have rippled through the industry.
Whole Foods is only the latest retailer to announce new plans to ease the worries of green seafood lovers. The Washington Post details the state of seafood standards.
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