How often do you read all of the ingredients on your food labels? A survey by The Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Whole Foods Market found that parents of kids under 18 reported spending an average of 27.2 minutes per week—equivalent to a cumulative 24 hours annually—reading food labels and/or thinking about the ingredients in their children’s food. With Quality Standards as rigorous as Whole Foods’, it is no wonder that many parents turn to the retailer for their grocery and specialty food needs.
“Our Quality Standards prohibit hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and more than 100 flavors, colors, sweeteners, and other ingredients commonly found in food,” Jamie Yael Katz, Senior Advisor of Quality Standards, told me. “Ingredients are banned for different reasons. It could be related to the environment, like partially hydrogenated oils, which we banned in 2003, and FDA banned in 2015, because of emerging research on potential health impacts. But often, they are banned because we don’t see an ingredient as necessary, like FD&C colors in food. We don’t think those enhance the experience of eating, and producers have other techniques and ingredients they can use for visual appeal and still meet our standards.”
As Whole Foods has expanded its offerings, its standards naturally expanded too. In addition to ingredient standards for food and other grocery items, the company recognized that there were opportunities to go beyond ingredient review, like becoming one of the first certified organic national retailers; selling only sustainable wild-caught seafood in its seafood department; and going beyond cage-free for eggs in its dairy cases.
“Customers can now find products in our seafood department with the Whole Trade Guarantee seal, which signifies a deep relationship with the supplier and collaboration with international third-party certifiers to help provide things like health care, improved wages, and maintenance of ecosystems,” Jamie continued. “We started the program in 2007, and today we have products from 12 countries, including the U.S., carrying that seal.”
Jamie emphasized that every customer comes to Whole Foods stores with different ideas about eating, ranging anywhere from a focus on organic items, gluten-free pasta, or fair-trade coffee.
“They know what they want and don’t want in their family’s food, and we like to offer choices for everyone. That’s one thing that makes shopping at Whole Foods Market so fun: discovering and trying new things,” said Jamie. “Maybe they’re looking to make an incredible cheese plate guided by our Certified Cheese Professionals, or simply focused on picking up pantry staples. I like to think we have something for everyone while also meeting our values and purpose as a company. Joyful, stress-free eating experiences are powered by sharing high-quality food that meets industry-leading standards.”
Following the results of the survey conducted by The Harris Poll, Whole Foods partnered with Certified Holistic Nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, a best-selling author, wellness expert, and mom of two, to spread the news about its Quality Standards.
“As parents and caregivers across the country once again prepare for the back-to-school season, Whole Foods Market is teaming up with Certified Holistic Nutritionist Kelly LeVeque to help bring peace of mind back to grocery shopping,” Jamie continued. “We enjoy working with all kinds of folks in the industry and are proud to have Kelly help share our Quality Standards. We are hopeful these standards can help our customers to eat joyfully and parent proudly, knowing Whole Foods Market has done the ingredient homework for them.”
For those wondering, that homework includes collaborating with industry experts, NGOs, suppliers, scientists, and visiting manufacturers and farms. Whole Foods’ Quality Standards team has over 270 years of experience collectively and is fiercely committed to the promise to offer better products for shoppers and their families.
As the evolution of health and wellness continues, we at Deli Market News will keep you informed.