Whole Foods to stop selling products made by inmates

NEW YORK – Whole Foods will stop selling products made using a prison labor program after a protest at one of its stores in Texas.

The company said the products should be out of its stores by April 2016, if not sooner. Whole Foods said it has sold tilapia, trout and goat cheese produced through a Colorado inmate program at some stores since at least 2011.

Michael Silverman, a Whole Foods spokesman, said the company had sourced the products because the program was a way to “help people get back on their feet and eventually become contributing members of society.”

But he said the company decided to end the practice because some customers were uncomfortable with it.

The tilapia, trout and cheese in question come through Colorado Correctional Industries, a division of Colorado’s department of corrections. On its website, CCI says its mission is to train inmates with skills and work ethics that help them secure employment after release.

Dennis Dunsmoor, director of the program, said the program doesn’t provide goods directly to Whole Foods, but that its partners do. He said inmates who volunteer for the program are paid 74 cents to $4 a day, and are eligible for performance bonuses.