DiGiorno Drops Dairy Supplier, Wiese Brothers, After Video Shows Farm Abusing Animals (VIDEO)
Dec 11, 2013 05:02 PM EST | By Dina Exil
DiGiorno, the nation's largest frozen pizza company announced Tuesday, that they will no longer accept milk products from Wiese Brothers Farm in Appleton, Wisconsin, after NBC News aired undercover footage of workers brutally abusing the dairy cows.
According to NBC News, the video, which was shot by an animal rights group, showed farm workers beating, kicking, stabbing and dragging cows around with a rope. Some of the cows appear unable to walk and others appear to have bleeding wounds. One worker is shown poking the cows with a stick and jabbing a sharp instrument into the cow's back.
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Nestlé, the company that manufactures DiGiorno pizza, and cheese supplier, Foremost Farms USA, who receives their milk from Wiese Brothers Farm deny any knowledge of the abuse on the farm and expressed their regrets and concern.
"Nestlé is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video," said Deborah Cross, a spokesperson for Nestlé's pizza division
Cross said Nestlé advised Foremost Farms USA they "will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm."
"We do expect all of our suppliers and their suppliers to meet our stringent guidelines," Cross said.
Foremost Farms USA has also ended its relationship with Wiese Brothers Farm and said they were disappointed in the farm's treatment of the animals.
"To protect consumer trust and confidence in the dairy industry, we have discontinued receiving milk from the farm depicted in the video," Foremost Farms spokesperson Joan Behr said.
In a statement to ABC News Tuesday, Nestle said:
"Nestlé is committed to proper animal handling, and has Responsible Sourcing Guidelines in place to help ensure that our suppliers work according to the same principles and values that we do ourselves. We will not knowingly work with companies that violate our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines."
Wiese Brothers Farm owner Mark Wiese told The Associated Press he fired the employees involved in the assault and removed a third employee from "animal handling" responsibilities. Wiese said he and his brother were not aware the animals were being abused until late last month.
"My brother and I and our families are just very, very shook up about the whole incident," Wiese said. "And we're just going to continue to complete our investigation and make sure changes are made if needed and make our business stronger and better."
The local sheriff's department has confirmed that police are investigating the alleged abuse.
"It something we're looking into right now," Captain David Konrath of the Brown County Sheriff's Department told NBC News. "At the conclusion of the investigation we'll give the case to the district attorney and he will make a decision about whether charges would be filed."
Animal activist group, Mercy for Animals, shot the video while working undercover in October and November, said Matt Rice, the group's director of investigations.
"No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate and neglect animals," Nathan Runkle, the executive director and founder of Mercy for Animals told NBC News. "Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, DiGiorno has allowed a culture of cruelty to flourish in its cheese supply chain."
Temple Grandin, an associate professor of livestock behavior at Colorado State University and an animal welfare adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the meat industry, stated the video depicted animal cruelty.
"Dragging live cows, and completely suspending them with the cow lift is severe animal abuse," Grandin said. "The actions of these people went beyond rough handling and escalated to the level of cruelty. Kicking, beating, and hard whipping of downed cows is abusive."
Since 2012, according to the Wieses, employees were required to handle animals and "sign a pledge about proper animal treatment as a condition of employment." After the video aired the farm has taken additional producers to ensure proper treatment, such as calling in a supervisor when an animal goes down and "designating three workers as specialists in caring for cows too sick or injured to stand."
Warning: The video is extremely graphic.
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