Most people consider Whole Foods to be healthy, but apparently just being thought of as healthy is not good enough for the grocery stores chain.
Whole Foods is now requesting permission to use the slogan “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store.” In order to acquire the slogan, the chain has to be granted permission from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In other words, they would have to buy their title of “World’s healthiest.”
This isn’t the first time they’ve used bold health claims as slogans. According to Grub Street, in 2012 the chain was awarded the patent for the phrase, “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store,” after arguing the store had “strong financial condition,” an “extensive offering of products,” and “clean and sanitary conditions,” as well as its “large size.”
It’s likely the chain is arguing similarly for this patent. Technically a panel of six judges from Health.com did name Whole Foods the number one of ten of America’s healthiest grocery stores out of the nation’s largest chain so at least that one isn’t as much of a stretch, but clearly simply being best in America isn’t good enough for them.
It’s also unclear if the arguments that helped win the original patents are actually true. As a large chain they should have a “large size” and an “extensive offering of products,” so these should be correct, but the “clean and sanitary conditions” and “strong financial condition” might not hold up as well.
On June 8, the FDA released a warning letter detailing unsanitary conditions and “serious violations” in one of Whole Foods' main packaging facilities. The Whole Foods North Atlantic condition “failed” in many food prep areas, which led to improper, unsanitary food handling procedures. The FDA even found non-pathogenic listeria in a vegetable chopping machine.
Financially, Whole Foods is still attempting to recover after The Department of Consumer Affairs found the chain to be price gouging New Yorkers with mislabeled weights for 80 different prepackaged products. According to CNN Money, this is the fourth consecutive quarter that sales have declined at Whole Food stores open more than a year.
Whole Foods also only has stores in the U.S, Canada, and U.K. so "In the world" seems like a bit of a stretch.
They also aren’t exactly the only “healthy” grocery store chain. The U.S. alone also has both Mother’s, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, all of which pride themselves in organic and health food. Other chains that include healthy options include Harris Teeter, Safeway, Hannaford, and Super Target.
The company won’t know if they can use the slogan for at least a couple weeks so for now they’ll have to settle for simply being “America’s Healthiest.”