Whole Foods Market (Austin, Texas) announced that its 273 U.S. stores have been individually certified organic by CCOF, a non-profit, USDA-accredited third-party organic certifier. Under the program, CCOF verifies that Whole Foods Market examines the current organic certification status of organic products; maintains a record-keeping process that demonstrates an audit trail for organic products; ensures organic products are appropriately protected from commingling with conventional products and contamination with prohibited materials; and trains store team members in handling practices for organic products.
In 2003, Whole Foods became the first national chain to be certified under the USDA’s national organic standards. In November 2008, the regulations changed so a group of stores could no longer be certified, but that each store must be certified individually.
Earlier this year, Whole Foods announced an energy program that calls for tripling the number of stores with solar panels, extends its commitment to offset 100 percent of its use of non-renewable electricity with wind energy, and reduces energy use.