Whole Foods Market announced the grocery chain will stop selling rabbit meat. The company said its expects all of its remaining rabbit meat to be “sold-through” by January 2016.
This decision from Whole Foods Corporate office comes after an NBC Bay Area investigation in May that revealed USDA inspection reports of the grocery chain’s source farms.
The USDA sent a letter of caution to one farm for improperly labeling some cartons as “USDA Inspected” when they were not. Inspectors noted other issues such as rabbits that were caged overnight in cold weather with no access to water.
Rabbit advocates say Whole Foods decision to offer rabbit meat didn’t keep with the chain’s own stated animal welfare standards of "no crates, cages, or tethers".
“Ultimately, NBC exposed they were not following humane standards and they were in violations in food safety,” said Marcy Schaaff, founder of SaveABunny rabbit rescue. “We’re thrilled that Whole Foods has decided to stop the sale of rabbit meat. We wish it had come sooner.”
Whole Foods declined requests for interviews, but sent an email which said:
“We were pleased to have worked with a small group of farmers to create a rabbit growing system that met our quality standards, unlike any other in the industry. However, the pilot ultimately revealed the sales volume did not justify the continuation or expansion of the pilot to a national program.”
Last summer, Whole Foods started selling rabbit meat in select markets, including here in the Bay Area.