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PETA lawsuit claims Whole Foods' rating system for humane animal treatment is misleading




People walk out of Whole Foods Market in the Brooklyn borough on May 7, 2014 in New York City.
People walk out of Whole Foods Market in the Brooklyn borough on May 7, 2014 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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If you’ve ever shopped at Whole Foods’ butcher counter, you’ve likely noticed the numbered rating system the store uses to let customers know how humanely the animals raised for sale in their stores are treated.

But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA) have filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that system is bunk and that the store is misleading customers about how it treats its animals.

Animal suppliers who work with Whole Foods are given number grades, one through five, for how well animals are treated while they’re being raised for slaughter. A “Step 1” is the lowest level, which says that animals are raised with  “no cages, no crates, no crowding.” “Step 5” is the highest, with animals at this level being raised on “animal-centered, entire life on same farm with extensive outdoor access.”

PETA’s lawsuit alleges that this grading system is used infrequently and that if a supplier violates the standards, they don’t lose certification.

Whole Foods said Monday that while they had not been formally served with the lawsuit, they were aware of its filing.

Guests:

Jared Goodman, director of animal law for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA)

Michelle Pawliger, farm animal policy associate with the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the pain and suffering of nonhuman animals