After months of studying the handling of its live lobsters from catch to point of purchase -- including the use of stackable lobster condos -- Whole Foods has banned the sale of the tasty crustaceans in its stores.
"We place as much emphasis on humane treatment and quality of life for all animals as we do on the expectations for quality and flavour," says the Austin, Texas-based upscale natural food chain's co-founder and chief executive, John Mackey .
Since June, Whole Foods has only offered frozen raw and cooked lobster products at its 180-plus stores in the U.S. and the UK. Its local Yorkville outlet (87 Avenue Road, at Lowther, 416-944-0500) is a step ahead, having outlawed the formerly frisky critters across the board a year ago.
"We had them in a big storage tank piled up on top of each other just like everybody else," says Leo Ramdin , who's in charge of the organic grocer's seafood department. Not only does he no longer carry the living versions, but he doesn't stock fresh raw or cooked lobsters either, unlike some of his Whole Foods counterparts.
"We're not comfortable with the way local suppliers handle them," says Ramdin, adding that this decision is left up to individual branches.
"I am thrilled with the ban, both live and dead," comments Liz White , the director of Animal Alliance Canada. "Whole Foods should be praised for acknowledging the sentience of lobster and making this decision when competition is so intense and profit so important."