Updated, with new information at the bottom...
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 10, 11 A.M. If there is one fast-food company that gets universally positive coverage, it's In-N-Out--hell, even anti-fast-food crusader Eric Schlosser praised their practices at the end of his epic Fast Food Nation (and how cool that the book begins and ends in Orange County, from the depths of what Carl's Jr. has become to the promise of Irvine-based In-n-Out?). Hell, I even wonder if they have a crisis management department.
That's why it'll be interesting to see how the public and the company will react to claims today from animal-rights group Mercy for Animals that In-N-Out buys its cheese from a supplier whose workers abuses its cows.
The supplier in question is Bettencourt Dairies, which is all over the news this morning because three of its former workers face misdemeanor criminal charges for abusing cows, actions caught on tape by an undercover Mercy for Animals worker. The Associated Press doesn't report on the In-N-Out connection, but Mercy for Animals just sent out a news release making the claim, and urging the company "to end its supplier relationship with Bettencourt Dairies and adopt new animal welfare guidelines, including zero tolerance for kicking, punching, and shocking cows, requiring suppliers to prohibit painful and unnecessary mutilations of animals, requiring suppliers to provide a safe, clean, and sanitary environment for cattle, and more."
"The secret ingredient in In-N-Out Burger's cheese is horrific animal abuse," Mercy for Animals executive director Nathan Runkle says in the press release. "Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, In-N-Out Burger has allowed a culture of cruelty to fester at the factory farms supplying cheese for In-N-Out's burgers. No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate, confine, and neglect animals. In-N-Out must take immediate actions to prevent further abuse at its suppliers."
Gives a new meaning to Animal Style...
UPDATE, 12 P.M. In-N-Out is as shocked as anyone about cow abuse, but stress they don't buy directly from Bettencourt Dairies. Full statement from chief operating officer Mark Taylor::
The treatment of the Idaho dairy cows in the video is shocking and completely unacceptable. In-N-Out Burger never has and never will condone such inhumane treatment of animals.
In-N-Out Burger does not buy its cheese products directly from dairy farms and has no contractual relationship with this dairy. We buy our cheese from a major international cheese supplier headquartered in Wisconsin.
The dairy depicted in the video is one of numerous dairies that sell milk to a bulk cheese manufacturer which then sells the bulk cheese to multiple cheese suppliers for further processing. In-N-Out Burger buys its cheese from one of these suppliers.
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Here at In-N-Out Burger, animal welfare is extremely important to us. We require every one of our suppliers to meet or exceed all state and federal requirements, including those dealing with animal welfare. We also ensure adherence to our strict contractual requirements by conducting periodic, unannounced inspections of our suppliers. Furthermore, we expect our suppliers to demand the same from their own suppliers.
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.
It is also our understanding that law enforcement authorities have investigated the incidents depicted in the video and that some individuals may have been arrested and charged.
For more than sixty years, we have provided our customers with only the highest quality burgers, fries and drinks. That is a pledge we will always keep.
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