FACTS ABOUT THE DUCKS WE SELL AT
WHOLE FOODS MARKET
1. Whole Foods Market does not sell factory-farmed
ducks from Maple Leaf Farms. The ducks we sell are grown by Grimaud Farms.
Grimaud Farms raises ducks in small barns housing less than 1,000 ducks.
The ducks are raised with no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Whole Foods in certain regions do not sell Maple Leaf Farms (MLF). Viva!
has not been able to ascertain if this is true of all the regions. In
January 2001, the Mid Atlantic region pulled Maple Leaf Farms in response
to our efforts.
Whole Foods does sell factory farmed duck meat from Grimaud Farms of California.
Grimaud raises Muscovy ducks in barns without access to the outdoors.
2. The ducks we sell are Muscovy ducks from South America. They are not
Pekins or Mallards.
Viva!s leaflet Ducks Out of Water deals with all duck
factory farmed in the USA. In fact, our leaflet does not list Whole Foods.
Given Whole Foods reputation, Viva! felt that when they found out they
were selling factory farmed duck meat they would want nothing to do with
Grimaud or MLF. We were wrong.
In Viva!s Ducks Out of Water report, we state that Muscovy ducks
originated in South America. They are used to feeding on plants and a
variety of other foods. They are wild birds who fly and swim.
3. The ducks live on bedding of cedar and pine wood shavings. Fresh layers
of wood shavings are placed in each barn every two days to eliminate odor
and to maintain proper sanitation.
Viva! investigators reported that the ducks were in filthy conditions
and some were having trouble walking. One of the sheds was in total darkness;
the heat and smell of ammonia were both unbearable.
The ducks are forced to live on slatted floors. According to one duck
farming book, An increased incidence of leg deformities and inferior
growth has been observed in ducklings kept on all slat floors compared
to others kept on wire.
Viva!s photos show the flooring of the ducks - with the wood shavings
4. The ducks have free access to trough waterers. They are not watered
using nipple dispensers.
Viva!s leaflet discusses the factory farming of ducks in general,
most farms use nipple drinkers.
It is unclear if the ducks are actually able to immerse themselves in
the trough waterers of which Whole Foods speaks. Some of the
birds appear only to have bell drinkers at Grimaud Farms - these do not
enable the birds to do more than drink.
5. The bill on each of these ducks ends in a sharp tip. Only the sharp
tip of the ducks bill is trimmed. The ducks beak is not amputated. There
is some discussion among veterinarians concerning this practice, but most
veterinarians compare trimming this small point to trimming a fingernail.
Whole Foods market is currently working with Grimaud to eliminate this
trimming practice entirely.
By definition, this process is de-beaking, also called de-billing. Please
see Viva!s photos of Grimaud Farms of California. Clearly, more
than just the tip is removed from some of the bills. This process is typically
done to prevent feather pulling - a behavior caused by the stressful environment.
Viva! has provided Whole Foods at the corporate level and some regional
offices with documentation of a study co-authored by someone at Grimaud
Farms of France which states that this process is traumatic to the
6. Whole Foods Market is also currently working with Grimaud Farms to
move towards the possibility of the free-range raising of ducks.
But in the meantime, Whole Foods is admitting to selling factory farmed
7. Whole Food Market is committed to working with responsible growers
to continue to improve farming practices. Grimaud Farms is open to our
suggestions for improvement and is working with us to meet our specifications.
Currently, Grimaud Farms does not meet Whole Foods supposed specifications
and, therefore, Whole Foods should not be buying from them at this time.
8. Animal welfare has always been one of Whole Foods Markets primary
missions as a company and will continue to be now and in the future.
McDonalds is a corporation not known for humane treatment of animals,
but they are now saying they will stop working with farms that do not
meet certain humane standards. It seems Whole Foods should join them.
As long as Whole Foods sells duck meat, Viva! has a responsibility to
inform their customers of the conditions in which these ducks are kept.