After unveiling a video showing workers at an Idaho dairy stomping, shocking and beating cows, an animal rights group on Wednesday urged Irvine-based In-N-Out to end its relationship with the milk supplier.
The Los Angeles-based group, Mercy For Animals, on Wednesday made public an undercover video shot at Bettencourt Dairies by a member of the advocacy organization.
It showed workers beating, kicking and stomping on fallen dairy cows, as well as a cow being dragged along the floor by a chain around her neck.
Three former workers at the Hansen-based dairy – Idaho's largest – were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty because of the video, according to Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs.
Mercy for Animals said that two of the men are still at large.
The diary owner, Luis Bettencourt, said he fired five workers shown in the video after seeing the footage in August.
"We also 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," he said. "We've been in business 30 years, and we've never had this happen before. We're all devastated here."
Mercy for Animals representatives said they hope the video's release will cause major companies such as In-N-Out to cease using Bettencourt Dairies' milk.
"The secret ingredient in In-N-Out Burger's cheese is horrific animal abuse," said Mercy for Animals Executive Director Nathan Runkle in a press release. "In-N-Out must take immediate actions to prevent further abuse at its suppliers."
At an event Wednesday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Runkle called for In-N-Out and other companies that use Bettencourt products to stop doing so and to adopt new animal welfare guidelines. The nonprofit advocacy group focused on In-N-Out at its Wednesday event in part because it is based in Southern California.
In-N-Out responded to the video in statement, saying it was "shocking and completely unacceptable" but emphasizing that it does not have a directly relationship with Bettencourt Dairies.
The burger chain said its cheese is purchased from a "a major international cheese supplier headquartered in Wisconsin," which buys from a bulk cheese manufacturer that in turn buys from Bettencourt.
"Animal welfare is extremely important to us," the burger chain said in a statement. "We will take appropriate action, up to and including termination of a supplier if we determine that any business in our chain of supply has failed to meet our requirements."