An undercover video produced by animals rights group Mercy for Animals exposes brutal animal treatment at a Burger King dairy supplier.
The disturbing footage shows employees at Bettencourt Dairies cruelly beating the animals; whipping, kicking, punching and stomping on cows' heads. The animals hobble around on broken legs and one fallen cow is dragged behind a tractor by a rope around its neck. The film also criticizes the "outrageously appalling" conditions in which the cows are kept, quoting veterinarian Dr. Lee Schrader: "The filthy, wet barn results in severe stress and injuries to the cows. This facility should be closed immediately."
The video was shot by a member of Mercy for Animals who was employed by Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, Idaho for a few weeks this summer.
According to the Miami Herald, Bettencourt Dairies—Idaho's largest dairy operation—supplies milk to Schreiber Foods, "one of the companies whose cheese ends up on Burger King’s Whoppers." The Los Angeles Times also connects Bettencourt with the burger chain In-N-Out, who purchases cheese from a Wisconsin-based international cheese supplier, that "buys cheese from a bulk cheese manufacturer that uses milk from Bettencourt."
In a press release, Mercy for Animals director Nathan Runkle specifically goes after Burger King for allowing a “culture of cruelty” at its supplier farms.
“The secret ingredient in Burger King’s cheese is horrific animal abuse,” Runkle said. “No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate, confine and neglect animals.”
Currently there are no federal guidelines for animal treatment on dairy farms and MFA is calling on Burger King to pave the way by demanding a higher set of standards from their suppliers. Both chains, who were alerted to the film on Monday, have made statements condemning the actions in the video and promising swift recourse and termination of contracts with any supplier that has "failed to meet our requirements."
Luis Bettencourt, the owner of the dairy, was similarly disgusted by the violence exposed by the film. Associated Press reports that he was ‘sick about it’ when told of the video.
"We showed the video to all the rest of the employees in our dairies, all 500 employees, and they had to sign a deal that said they understand that there's zero tolerance for animal abuse in our dairies," Bettencourt said.
The five employees depicted in the video have been fired; three face criminal charges for violations of Idaho code on animal cruelty.
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Warning: Video contains graphic and disturbing images.