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The Washington Post reports that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is suing Whole Foods, charging that "the entire audit process for Whole Foods’ animal welfare standards is a sham because it occurs infrequently and violations of the standards do not cause loss of certification ... Standards that are not actually enforced create a false impression of ensuring a more humanely treated, higher quality animal product -- when in fact they ensure no such thing."

The suit goes on to say that "when a grocery store’s standards for improved animal welfare are not actually enforced or do not require meaningfully better treatment for meat animals compared to the industry standard, consumers are deceived into paying a higher price for meat that fails to offer the benefit they seek."

The Post writes that "PETA alleged that Whole Foods audits suppliers just once every 15 months; that violators do not face repercussions; that the standards 'barely exceed common industry practices'; and that Whole Foods extracts a premium from customers under 'false advertising'." And, the story goes on, "PETA’s broadside against the chain came a day after it released video - cited in the class action - of alleged pig abuse at a farm in Pennsylvania that supplies about 20 Whole Foods outlets in the Philadelphia area. The allegations hit a chain that is already struggling with disappointing earnings and the aftermath of an overcharging scandal."
KC's View:
I don't believe everything that PETA says, not by a long shot. But I also don't believe everything that Whole Foods says. I'm not inclined to think of this as a nuisance suit ... in this case, I'd like to see the evidence, and I'd like to see the matter adjudicated in the courts.

Here's the thing. Whole Foods had better be in the right on this, and it better be able to deal with the charges expeditiously. No dissembling, to distractions, no legal maneuvers designed to obscure the charges rather than honestly discuss its policies and implementation.

If it ends up that Whole Foods has been all about lip service to the values it has espoused, it may end up looking like Volkswagen. I don't think this will be the case, and I hope it won't be the case. But it has to be proactive about facing down PETA and dealing with these charges forthrightly.

This isn't just one of the options. To my mind, it is the only option.