Animal rights groups are zeroing in on some of the nation’s biggest fast food companies after an undercover video surfaced earlier this week that recorded Idaho dairy workers stomping on and dragging live cattle. Burger King, In-N-Out, Wendy’s, and other companies are under fire for their business relationships with Bettencourt Dairies, which is where the footage was captured.
Five of the workers were fired, owner Luis Bettencourt told CNN this week. The company has 13 milking facilities where around 500 employees work with between 60,000 and 70,000 cows. The company has forced all of their employees to watch the video and installed video cameras that will allow management to monitor employees working with the cattle.
The video in question depicts workers jumping on a living cow as if it were a trampoline and kicking the bleeding animal in the face. At another point the employees put a rope around the animal’s neck and drag it across the floor with a tractor before slamming its neck into a metal gate, according to the Miami Herald.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the three employees who are featured most prominently in the images.
The cows are housed in small cages and walk on legs that break easily because of their thinness. Mercy for Animals, a prominent animal activist group, produced the video and sent it to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture five months ago.
Mercy for Animals director Nathan Runkle accused Burger King of creating a “culture of cruelty” at its food plants.
“The secret ingredient in Burger King’s cheese is horrific animal abuse,” Runkle told the Miami Herald. “No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate, confine and neglect animals.”
Earlier this year the Humane Society issued a statement that praised Burger King’s efforts to combat animal abuse, although it’s unclear if the society would continue its praise after the most recent video, which described it as “reprehensible.” Earlier this year Burger King pledged that by 2017 all meat sold in its restaurants will be from cage-free farming, according to the Associated Press.
In-N-Out CEO Mark Taylor issued a statement condemning the video but stopped short of promising a specific plan.
“We will take appropriate action if we determine that anyone in our chain of supply has failed to adhere to federal animal welfare regulations,” Taylor wrote on the company’s website. “We are concerned about improving animal welfare and are working with industry leaders and experts to strengthen all aspects of the care and handling of animals.”
You can find the video beneath but be advised, the content is disturbing.