Video surfaced this week showing animal abuse violations at Bettencourt Dairies, a Burger King dairy supplier.
The video, secretly shot by the Mercy for Animals organization in Twin Falls County, Idaho, shows employees kicking, punching and shocking cows. Mercy for Animals has since urged Burger King to end its supplier relationship with the dairy farm and to adopt new, stricter animal welfare guidelines with zero tolerance for abuse.
"The abuse of the downed cow with electric prods and dragging with the tractor was horrific animal abuse," said animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, in a news relese. "If this abusive treatment had occurred at a slaughter plant, the plant would have been shut down by the USDA. The atrocious treatment of cows at this dairy is an indicator of a total lack of management supervision."
Following the undercover investigation, MFA immediately alerted authorities and presented a detailed legal petition and compiled evidence of violations of Idaho's anti-cruelty laws at this facility to the Idaho Department of Agriculture. As a result, three employees, including a facility manager, have been charged with criminal cruelty to animals.
A pre-trial date for worker Jesus Garza has been set for Oct. 16 at the Twin Falls County Courthouse in Idaho. Manager Jose Acensio and worker Javier Rojas-Loayza are still at large.
"The secret ingredient in Burger King's cheese is horrific animal abuse," said Nathan Runkle, MFA's executive director, in the release. "Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, Burger King has allowed a culture of cruelty to fester at the factory farms supplying cheese for its burgers. No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate, confine, and neglect animals. Burger King must take immediate actions to prevent further abuse at its suppliers."
In a statement, Burger King officials said the company doesn't tolerate or condone cruelty to animals.
The MFA has also asked Wendy's to stop using milk from the Idaho company.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Dublin, Ohio-based chain is further removed from this supplier, however – buying cheese from a supplier that gets its cheese from a factory with a direct supplier relationship to Bettencourt.
"We are appalled by the video," Wendy's said in a written statement. "However, Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek Dairy in Idaho is not a supplier of Wendy's. We have instructed Wendy's supplier to disassociate with Bettencourt immediately. Wendy's maintains stringent animal-welfare standards with our suppliers."
"Because of our commitment to our dairy herd, animal abuse or misuse has a zero-tolerance policy and is dealt with as swiftly as possible," Bettencourt said in a statement.
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