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April 20, 2022

6 minute read

Timeline of Farm Forward’s Antibiotics Testing & Coverage

  • October 2, 2020 — Farm Forward publishes a blog, “Why We Resigned from the Board of the Nation’s Largest Animal Welfare Certification,” explaining our April 2020 departure from the board of Global Animal Partnership (GAP), the certification used by Whole Foods Market, after more than a decade of service. In it, we explain that, despite years of effort, the certification had become a marketing tool for factory farming corporations instead of meaningfully raising the bar for animal welfare.
    (Posted to timeline 8/25/22)
  • December 30, 2020 — Farm Forward’s report, “ The Dirt on Humanewashing,” reveals how the certified “better” meat dominating grocery shelves, including Whole Foods’ Animal Welfare Certified™  meat, come from genetically modified animals who suffer in filthy, cruel conditions.
    (Posted to timeline 8/25/22)
  • May, 2021 — Farm Forward receives a positive result from National Organic Program and Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Animal Welfare Certified™ beef purchased from Whole Foods Market for monensin sodium, a growth-promoting antibiotic ionophore prohibited by both programs.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • September, 2021 — Farm Forward commissions a survey from YouGov of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and their beliefs about meat labels. It finds that 25 percent incorrectly believe that “antibiotic-free” means animals are raised on pasture, and 32 percent incorrectly believe that “antibiotic-free” indicates high welfare. Additionally, nearly half of consumers expect GAP’s Animal Welfare Certified™ label to guarantee that animals are not given antibiotics.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • February, 2022 — Farm Forward receives eight additional positive results for antiparasitic drugs in cattle and turkey products sold at multiple Whole Foods stores and chicken products from Trader Joe’s. Four GAP-certified beef products purchased from Whole Foods tested positive for fenbendazole; one GAP-certified turkey product from Whole Foods tested positive for clopidol; and two “antibiotic-free” chicken products from Trader Joe’s tested positive for fenbendazole. These antiparasitic drugs are banned by the National Organic Program, but not by GAP. In our testing, these antiparasitic drugs did not appear in Certified Organic products.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • February, 2022 — Experts consulted to confirm the implications of each of the positive results for the claims made by the retailers and certifications implicated by the findings. Farm Forward shares its findings with a Washington Post reporter investigating antibiotic use in animal agriculture.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • March 30, 2022 — Farm Forward’s blog, “Whole Foods’ ‘Better’ Chicken Isn’t What You Think,” highlights how GAP’s new genetic welfare standards, framed as “reinvent[ing] the modern day broiler chicken,” still allow genetic modification for fast growth in ways that are known to produce leg deformities, muscle myopathies, and weakened immune systems.
    (Posted to timeline 8/25/22)
  • April 5, 2022 — Farm Forward publishes the results of its drug testing program and launches a consumer petition targeting Whole Foods. Emails on behalf of petition signers are sent to Whole Foods on a rolling basis.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 5, 2022 — Farm Forward issues a press release about the results of its drug testing program.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 7, 2022Science publishes a peer-reviewed study co-authored by researchers at George Washington University’s Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) and an antibiotics testing company, FoodID, revealing that residues of medically important antibiotics are pervasive in animals marketed as “antibiotic-free” and certified by GAP.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 7, 2022 — ARAC publishes a press release on Phys.org. Arizona radio station KJZZ is the first to cover the story.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 7, 2022 — The Washington Post posts an article about the article published in Science, affirming Farm Forward’s findings. Though Farm Forward was interviewed extensively for the story, a decision was made by the paper just before the article’s publication to omit any mention of Farm Forward, including Farm Forward’s test results and its former role on GAP’s Board of Directors. The article included an inaccurate assertion from a Whole Foods representative that Whole Foods had “no reason to believe that the cattle tested in this study ended up in products in [its] stores.” Whole Foods’ leadership was informed that Farm Forward had found antibiotic residue in meat sold on its shelves prior to the story’s release.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 7, 2022 Farm Forward publishes a blog titled “More drugs found in ‘antibiotic-free’ meat certified by Global Animal Partnership,” discussing the Science study’s findings, which corroborate the results of Farm Forward’s own testing.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 7, 2022 — Farm Forward submits a letter to the editor to the Washington Post including some of the data that was omitted from the article. The LTE is not run.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 8, 2022 — Farm Action was joined by the American Grassfed Association in issuing a press release, calling on the USDA to investigate Whole Foods’ “antibiotic-free” claims in the wake of Farm Forward’s and the Science study’s findings.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 8, 2022 — Articles appear in The HillConsumer Reports, and WebMD, calling into question “antibiotic-free” claims based on the Science data but excluding Farm Forward’s findings.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 8, 2022 — Industry outlet AgWeb is the first to cover Farm Action’s request to the USDA along with Farm Forward’s data.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 12, 2022Forbes covers the Science study, highlighting that “more than a quarter of the cattle sampled from the Global Animal Partnership welfare certification program, used by Whole Foods and hundreds of other retailers and meat purchasers, had at least one positive test.”
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 12, 2022Food Safety News writes about the Science study and Farm Forward’s findings, reiterating Whole Foods’ claim that “no retailer is identified by the study,” despite Farm Forward’s results coming from meat purchased at Whole Foods.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 14, 2022 — Farm Forward’s petition reaches 1,000 signatures.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 14, 2022Farm Forward publishes a blog titled “The Drugs Farm Forward Found Hiding in Your Meat,” detailing the methodology and implications of its drug testing results.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 14, 2022 Sentient Media publishes an article on Farm Forward’s data entitled “Antibiotic Residue Found in Antibiotic-Free Meat at Whole Foods.”
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 15, 2022 — Farm Forward’s Executive Director, Andrew deCoriolis, sends a letter to supporters and other stakeholders, including Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, about the drug testing results.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 16, 2022 — Farm Forward’s video about the antibiotics found in Whole Foods’ meat was played 50,000 times between Facebook and Twitter.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • April 20, 2022 — Farm Forward publishes a blog titled “How can “antibiotic-free” meat contain antibiotics? Simple: Nobody’s watching,” highlighting the absence of any testing to verify “antibiotic-free” claims, while companies charge premiums on factory farmed products with these labels.
    (Posted to timeline 4/20/22)
  • May, 2022 — Farm Forward submits an ad calling Whole Foods’ “no antibiotics, ever” promise into question to Seattle and Austin airport and public transit agencies (hometowns of Whole Foods and its parent, Amazon, respectively) in advance of Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting. Officials (including Seattle’s Sound Transit, which maintains a financial relationship with Amazon) reject the advertisement because of its “controversial” nature.
    (Posted to timeline 7/5/22)
  • May 24, 2022Farm Forward issues a formal appeal of the agencies’ decisions on First Amendment grounds, explaining that placing the PSA on publicly operated spaces like the Seattle and Austin airports and public transit would provide an important public service.
    (Posted to timeline 7/5/22)
  • May 25, 2022 — Farm Forward runs its ad during Amazon’s shareholder meeting on cell phones in Austin and Seattle, as well as in the hometown cities of Amazon’s top 10 shareholders, reaching over 90,000 people, and publishes a blog entitled, “Censored: Ad Exposing Whole Foods’ Antibiotics Deception.”
    (Posted to timeline 7/5/22)
  • August 23, 2022 — Farm Forward joins a class action lawsuit against Whole Foods, alleging that the retail giant is deceiving shoppers about beef products in its stores, citing the results of our antibiotic testing program.
    (Posted to timeline 8/25/22)

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