by John Hugh DeMastri
An anti-factory farm nonprofit alongside a trio of customers sued Whole Foods on Tuesday, claiming that the grocery chain used antibiotics in its beef products despite marketing them with the slogan “No Antibiotics, Ever.”
Activist group Farm Forward claims that independent testing found antibiotics and other pharmaceutical residue in beef sold at Whole Foods, alleging that the Amazon subsidiary’s claims it does not use antibiotics were false advertising, according to their complaint. Farm Forward’s website states that their mission is to “promote conscientious food choices, reduce farmed animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.”
The non-profit group claims that the use of antibiotics in meats is often unnecessary, promoting industry profits by forcing animals into unsanitary conditions, leading the drugs to become less effective as diseases adapt to the regular low-doses given preventatively to animals in factory farms. Whole Foods currently markets at least 42 beef products as being antibiotic-free, charging a premium price for the moniker, according to the lawsuit.
When NCC leaders assert that treating chickens humanely makes “good business sense,” closer scrutiny reveals that what they mean is that making consumers believe chickens were treated humanely makes good business sense. pic.twitter.com/yWCmwLMkp2
— Farm Forward (@FarmForward) August 4, 2022
Whole Foods claims that its “baseline requirements” are stronger than competitors and that “if it doesn’t meet our standards, we won’t sell it,” according to a post in the Quality Standards section of the Whole Foods website. These standards include a commitment to “no antibiotics, ever,” that animals that require antibiotics treatment will be separated from their herd and not be purchased by the grocer, that growth hormones will not be added to animals, that animal feed will lack animal by-products and that cattle, sheep and goats will spend a minimum of two-thirds of their lives at pasture.
A 2012 post remains up on the Whole Foods website that claims “our standard is clear: No antibiotics, EVER!”
Farm Forward has been campaigning for some time against Whole Foods’ apparent use of antibiotics, initially reporting the discovery of antibiotics on April 5, 2022, in a blog post on their website. In May, the organization accused the cities of Austin and Seattle, which are the headquarters for Whole Foods and Amazon respectively, of unconstitutionally censoring Farm Forward by refusing to run a public service announcement the activist group created in advance of Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting.
The group has close ties to kosher activist group Jewish Initiative For Animals (JIFA), with JIFA spinning off from Farm Forward in 2016, according to JIFA. In April, the two groups commissioned the non-profit chemical analysis organization Health Research Institute to examine samples of Empire kosher chicken, criticizing the company for the alleged use of antiparasitics.
Aside from Whole Foods, the issue of grocers falsely representing meat as “antibiotic free” has become more prominent, after an April 7, 2022 study by George Washington University professors found that more than 40% of feedyards that claimed to be antibiotic free actually contained antibiotics, according to Forbes. Food that is labeled as being antibiotic-free can sell at a premium of as much as $1 per pound.
Neither Farm Forward nor Whole Foods responded immediately to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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John Hugh DeMastri is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Whole Foods Market” by Dwight Burdette. CC BY 3.0.