AUSTIN, Texas (June 27, 2005) Due to recent news about Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE), Whole Foods Market reminds shoppers they can continue to shop its meat departments with confidence as stringent quality standards ensure the meat sold at the leading natural and organic foods supermarket is not at risk of this disease. For 25 years, shoppers have trusted Whole Foods Market's commitment to the best-tasting natural beef, and the company's global quality standards and processes ensure that Mad Cow Disease poses no risk as:
- Our suppliers harvest cattle before 24 months of age; BSE has an incubation period of two to five years.
- Beef is sold only in the whole muscle form as BSE is transmitted through eating brain and spinal tissues, and it has not been found in whole muscle meats. No products contain brain or spinal tissues at Whole Food Market and its beef comes to the stores in the whole muscle form to be ground fresh at each store.
- Our suppliers have never processed any “downers” because any sick animal that is treated with antibiotics and/or other medications not approved by Whole Foods Market's natural meat standards are restored to health and sold to the commercial market. Any injured or lame animals are returned to the farmer or ranch for evaluation and are, if needed, humanely destroyed.
- Beef comes from cattle, including the parenting stock, that have never been fed animal by-products.
- Traceability back to the ranch or farm easily sources every cow back to their place of birth. Animals purchased from another farm must be accompanied by signed affidavits attesting the animal has never received prohibited items, including feed, from each previous owner.
In addition, producers in the Whole Foods Market natural meat program are visited by the company's meat experts to verify raising and handling practices, such as ensuring no antibiotics or added growth hormones have been administered to the cattle. All meat suppliers are third-party audited for independent verification of food safety and humane animal treatment standards at processing facilities; a veterinarian inspects all cattle prior to entry into a slaughter plant.
“Whole Foods Market is very proud of our exceptional position in the grocery industry for championing innovative production systems that ensure the quality and safety of our meat,” said Margaret Wittenberg, vice president of communications and quality standards. “Shoppers should rest assured that our meat departments are ready to provide beef that has been monitored every step of the way, and we offer up one-on-one customer service, knowledge and expertise.”