By Jan. 1, 2011, Whole Foods plans to implement an animal welfare rating program at all its stores, company co-founder John Mackey said in an interview.

“Signs will tell customers exactly how meat animals were raised,” said Mackey.  “We’re rolling out initiatives to help shoppers (and staff) make healthier, more educated choices about food.”

The proposal includes signs in stores that will detail how animals were raised.  The rating system goes along with Whole Foods transparency goals.  The grocery chain recently became the first retailer to have signs telling consumers where and how each species of seafood sold within its stores was raised.

Considered one of the nation’s organic and natural food grocery trendsetters, Whole Foods marks its 30th anniversary on Sept. 20.

“In human biology, 30 is your peak…we’re still youthful and idealistic, but more mature and wiser now,” Mackey said.

In addition to the animal welfare rating system, the company also plans to introduce a private-label line of vegan foods that are low in sugar and salt.  The new line will contain no animal fat, canola oil, or safflower oils.