Whole Foods Stops Selling Live Lobsters
Message Posted: Jun 17, 2006 10:24:39 PM
June 16, 2006
After evaluating the entire supply chain process, Whole Foods Market has announced it will stop selling live lobsters effective immediately. The company said it wasn't so much a business decision as an ethical one.
"Although we discovered significant improvements are possible from capture up to in-store tank conditions, we are not yet sufficiently satisfied that the process of selling live lobsters is in line with our commitment to humane treatment and quality of life for animals," said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president of quality standards for Whole Foods Market.
"At this time, we believe it is too difficult to maintain consistent conditions throughout the entire supply chain to ensure the health and well-being of lobsters outside their natural environment for such a long period of time. Many lobsters are held in storage facilities for several months."
For the time being, Whole Foods said it will only sell frozen raw and cooked lobster products from suppliers meeting specific quality standards for humane treatment, handling and processing.
"If at some time in the future we become convinced that sufficient improvements are possible in the handling of live lobsters to ensure humane treatment throughout the supply chain, we will consider resuming the sale of live lobsters at Whole Foods Market," Wittenberg said.
In November 2005, Whole Foods Market assembled an internal task force to review every step of its live lobster procurement process in an effort to improve humane conditions. A deadline of June 15, 2006 was set to determine if more humane alternatives could be implemented.
Evaluating the biology, natural environment, behaviors and needs of the animals, the team assessed every angle from traps and transport to in-store tank design and take-home cooking instructions.
"We place as much emphasis on the importance of humane treatment and quality of life for all animals as we do on the expectations for quality and flavor. It is an integral component of our standards for every species we sell, and lobster cannot be any different," said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market.
"Part of our business is to continually learn and evolve, and while the door is open to new information, we are satisfied with our decision to stop selling live lobsters at this time."