Oddly enough, the store now wants people to believe that it can make mass rabbit meat production humane. The company spent an entire four years agonizing over how to make it nicer to keep and kill a smart, sensitive, social and loving species, after all. However, the House Rabbit Society breaks it down to show there’s not really much difference in the store’s new standards and how meat rabbits are typically raised anyway.
Both males and females can still be isolated if necessary, females can still be bred every 30 days, rabbits will still be torn from their social groups and babies (fryers) will still be killed when they’re 10-12 weeks old.
Aside from trying to make “new” standards for care, there’s not much Whole Foods can do to ensure the humane treatment it’s promoting either. According to the House Rabbit Society, two of its current suppliers are located in Missouri and Iowa – both of which have ag gag laws – who source their rabbits randomly so there’s no way to vouch for where they came from in the end.
Meat rabbits are also classified as poultry and are excluded from the basic protection other livestock animals are afforded under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which means they get no federal protection from abuse and are subject to any state laws that may or may not exist to protect them from inhumane slaughter practices, which are left out of the store’s humane guidelines.
Even though Whole Foods says it will have a USDA inspector (which isn’t required for rabbit meat), they won’t be there to ensure rabbits don’t suffer when they’re being killed, only that the meat is safe.
It’s beyond disappointing to see a vegan/vegetarian friendly retailer that offers an array of cruelty-free products for caring consumers cave to the alleged demands of a few who want to see even more animals raised and killed every year for a product we don’t need. Hopefully more customers will express their disappointment, than the “lots” of customers who supposedly asked it to start selling rabbit meat.
Please sign and share the petition asking Whole Foods to abandon this pilot program and commit to protecting rabbits by keeping them out of its stores.