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The Hidden Truth Behind the Cheese on DiGiorno Pizza

The Hidden Truth Behind the Cheese on DiGiorno Pizza

Four former employees of a dairy farm that supplied DiGiorno have been charged with criminal animal cruelty following the release of an undercover video that was taken by an investigator for Mercy for Animals (MFA).

In December, MFA released shocking footage that was taken last fall showing dairy cows being subjected to an inexcusable level of violence by workers at Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf, Wis. Workers were caught kicking, beating, stabbing and whipping cows, in addition to dragging those who couldn’t walk on their own with chains by their necks and legs. The investigator also documented cows who were left to suffer with illnesses and injuries with no veterinary care and calves being immediately removed from their mothers and having their tails docked without painkillers.

In all, the workers are being charged with a total of 11 counts of criminal animal cruelty with each count being punishable by up to nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines. All four are due back in court on March 4.

In this case, Wiese Brothers Farms supplied a cooperative named Foremost Farms, which is a cheese supplier to Nestle’s pizza division, which owns DiGiorno, putting Nestlé in the hot seat for using milk that was supplied from sick and abused cows.

According to a statement, MFA is calling on Nestlé to adopt tougher animal welfare guidelines to protect cows, “including zero tolerance for kicking, punching and shocking cows; requiring suppliers to prohibit painful and unnecessary mutilations of animals; and requiring suppliers to provide a safe, clean and sanitary environment for cattle.”

“These criminal charges should be a wake-up call that heartbreaking animal abuse runs rampant at DiGiorno cheese suppliers. Swift action must be taken to end this unspeakable cruelty. Nestlé has the power and responsibility to implement meaningful policies to end some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the dairy industry,” said MFA’s executive director, Nathan Runkle. “No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that torture animals.”

Nestlé condemned animal cruelty when the footage was released and has since taken some steps to improve things. A spokesperson told ABC News that the company launched a new auditing program in January that will target direct suppliers and those who do business with those suppliers and that everyone will be held to the Supplier Code and Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, which outline standards for animal welfare.

Sadly, this is the fourth MFA investigation of a dairy farm that has resulted in criminal charges in the past five years. Even with stronger oversight, the dairy industry is still full of a number of practices that are harmful to cows and reduce them to mere commodities, which is why MFA and other animal advocates are also urging caring consumers to ditch dairy. As MFA puts it:

Cows have a natural lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years, but the stress caused by factory farm conditions leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time they are four or five years old.

These highly intelligent and social animals suffer almost unimaginable abuse from the time they are born and ripped from their mothers’ sides until they are so physically worn out from repeated pregnancies and constant milk production that they are sold for slaughter.

For more info on MFA’s campaign to protect cows from unnecessary violence and suffering, visit SliceOfCruelty.com.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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137 comments

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7:50AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

P.S. I can't watch the video as I already know how cruel it is and I couldn't read on anymore.
If the slaughterhouses or farm have cameras, they might as well let people visit. That's why no visitors allow and even created an ag-gag bill to protect their nasty acts. We can't change others but we can change ourselves by becoming vegetarian, one step at a time; for the sake of all other beings.

7:42AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

The only best way to end animals sufferings is to stop eating meat and stop most of the animals by product. For as long as there are meat eaters, there will be slaughterhouses and there will be people working in there and lost temper and no tolerance due to the low pay and high stress. It takes more then one or a small group of people to make it happen but if everyone puts in a bit of effort to change diet and alternative of avoiding any animal by product, the impact can be significant. It's only a matter of commitment to improve the lives of others and oneself. It's not easy for some people but it can be done. On the other hand, if more people decline meat and move toward vegetarian style, I bet that we will see more farming on greens rather than slaughterhouses and the ill tempered workers can move toward an opposite job as well. I'm asking everyone please try to put in some effort to help change for the better and hope to live to see it happen. Good will can be done even in thought and action and every moment, not just on holidays.

12:37AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

What I read is bad enough. I can not watch your video cause I will just cry. Workers need to be monitored by camera's and screened out for violence and cruelty. Personally I don't believe in tail docking or ear mutilation for any animals!

8:30PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Workers who abuse animals should not only get fines and jail time, they should be banned from ever working with or owning animals again.
Factory farms should also be banned. They promote animal abuse and cruelty, be it ever so unintentional.

5:54PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Dont give up dairy - give up your ABOMINABLE American factory farms. Free range milk is better milk - thats why Australia has the best dairy produce in the world. And cows that live decent, protected, near idyllic lives (compared to any wild animal even, tho not as nice as some pets).
We dont need to stop 'using' animals, we need to start giving them good, happy lives in return.

1:42AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

These things will NEVER END..
not until ALL farms are legally required to have cameras in places where people and animals are together & the footage of all these cameras will be available for ANYONE to watch whenever they want.. that is the ONLY time I feel we can come slightly closer to ensuring animals in farms are treated better.. but it seems highly unlikely

11:11PM PST on Feb 23, 2014

Thank you

10:43AM PST on Feb 23, 2014

PLEASE STOP abusing innocent animals, we can try others alternatives
soy cheese, almond cheese oh! tapioca cheese is just delicious!

"If" , we truly care for animals, we should stop eating them, don't you think?
Petition SO signed

9:02PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

All the more reason to fight against ag-gag bills. These people must be stopped and prosecuted. I would expect the pizza guys to do some butt-covering, too.

5:53PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Despicable

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