Animal Justice Urges Whole Foods to Drop Cruel Caviar

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Whole Foods is a supermarket chain well-known for its health-conscious fare and claims of high animal welfare standards—including for its “seafood” products. But while the retailer boasts about offering products that are sustainable and kind to animals, Whole Foods is stocking its shelves with caviar, a garnish of extreme animal suffering.

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Animal Justice recently released shocking and disturbing undercover footage from a certified organic and sustainable fish farm where endangered sturgeons are raised for meat and caviar on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

In the world’s first-ever caviar exposé, whistleblower video showed sturgeons suffering in tiny, filthy, and overcrowded tanks for over 10 years before they were old enough to be violently slaughtered and their eggs cut out of them. Prior to being killed, the animals are intentionally starved for weeks to “improve” the taste of their flesh.

The caviar production process uses disturbing practices, including stabbing sturgeons in their abdomens repeatedly during their lives, without the apparent use of pain relief, and workers sucking eggs out through straws with their mouths to determine if they are sellable.

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One seven-foot long female sturgeon named Gracie has been in a tiny tank for over 25 years, where she is used as a breeding machine to hatch other sturgeons who are eventually killed for caviar. Other fishes on the farm were seen suffering with troubling and untreated injuries and deformities.

Other fishes are also used in the caviar industry. Northern Divine Aquafarms raises coho salmons for their eggs, a product commonly known as “roe” or “ikura”. These tiny orange eggs are often used as a garnish on sushi. Northern Divine killed salmons for their eggs by scooped them out of tanks and throwing onto ice—a practice that is not considered a humane method for killing a salmon, even under the aquaculture industry’s own weak guidelines.

Tell Whole Foods to Stop Selling Cruel Caviar

Fishes are complex and sentient beings with the capacity to suffer greatly. Yet, fish protection laws in Canada and around the world are notoriously weak. Grocers can play a huge role in improving the lives of these animals, simply by refusing to sell products that are the result of such cruel practices.

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Caviar is a harmful and unnecessary delicacy, like foie gras and veal. It has no place at Whole Foods, which positions itself as a leader in high ethical and sustainability standards.

Join us in urging Whole Foods to end the sale of caviar in its supermarkets immediately. This luxury garnish is not worth the price of animal abuse.

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