The American multinational supermarket chain Whole Food has been sued by several consumers claiming traces of antibiotics were found in their beef products labelled antibiotic-free. Since 1981, Whole Foods has claimed that all of the animals within its supply chain are raised without antibiotics, but one of the plaintiffs, Farm Forward, a nonprofit organization campaigning to end factory farming, said it did its own testing in 2021 and 2022 and found traces of monensin sodium, a growth antibiotic, in one sample of a Whole Foods beef product. Farm Forward said it shared its findings with the CEO of Whole Foods, but received no response, so made public its findings in April 2022. A spokesperson for Whole Foods said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Whole Foods (a subsidiary of Amazon) relies on GAP’s Animal Welfare Certified™ program to ensure that the meat sold in its stores contains “no antibiotics”. Andrew deCoriolis, Farm Forward executive director, said “Sophisticated testing can reveal the truth about prohibited drugs fed to animals on factory farms, but these tests cannot reveal the extent to which these animals have suffered…Whole Foods and GAP say that their products are humane and hope we’ll take their word for it; our test results should give consumers pause.”
In a statement published on 24th August 2022, Farm Forward wrote the following: “Humanewashing by Whole Foods has succeeded in persuading shoppers that Whole Foods sells nothing but the best, and that the farms supplying meat to Whole Foods provide significantly better living conditions than they typically do. Farm Forward wants Whole Foods to verify that subtherapeutic and growth-promoting antibiotics are not used in any aspect of its meat supply chain, and to be honest with the public about which claims the retailer can, and cannot, guarantee. Additionally, Farm Forward wants retailers implicated in profiting from consumer deception to fund an independent watchdog agency that will work in consumers’ interest to assist supermarkets in fighting meat industry misinformation.”