AUSTIN, Texas – Applegate Organics Uncured Thick Cut Bacon is being sold exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. Product is made with pork from Becker Lane Organic Farm, a certified Step 3 farm under the 5-Step Animal welfare rating system – the signature program of the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership.

Becker Lane Organic Farm raises traditional breeds of pigs in Dyersville, Iowa, with a dedication to animal welfare since its founding in 1850. In this rating system, independent, third-party certifiers audit farms and rate animal welfare practices and conditions using a tiered system that ranges from Step 1 (no crates, cages or crowding) to Step 5+ (animals spend their entire lives on one farm).

"Whole Foods Market is fortunate to have true partnerships with suppliers like Becker Lane Organic Farm that are committed to providing the highest quality products while helping ensure and support better lives for farm animals," said Theo Weening, global meat buyer for Whole Foods Market.

Applegate Organics Uncured Thick Cut Bacon from Becker Lane's pork is available in 8-oz. packages in select Whole Foods Market stores. Like all meat sold at Whole Foods Market, the product meets the company's strict quality standards, which require that animals be raised on a vegetarian diet without being administered antibiotics or added growth hormones.

All fresh beef, pork and chicken sold in US Whole Foods Market stores is now certified to the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system. Whole Foods Market said it is the first retailer to adopt the rating system, which provides a way to engage and reward producers by promoting continuous improvement in farm animal welfare and gives shoppers a way to make more informed choices at the meat counter. Signs and stickers throughout Whole Foods Market meat departments identify these Step ratings.