Due to the shocking footage, Fairlife has received backlash from animal rights’ groups across the country.
Grocers across the Midwest are pulling products distributed by a popular milk brand from store shelves after a shocking video, which revealed consistent abuse of calves at a major Indiana dairy farm, was released on social media this week.
The graphic footage taken from inside the dairy operations at Fair Oaks Farms, which is owned by the founder of the dairy company Fairlife (stylized as fa!rlife), was made public after an undercover investigation was conducted by the non-profit animal rights’ group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM).
“These are really the last true concentration camps left on planet Earth,” Richard Couto, the founder of ARM, told NBC 5 Chicago on Wednesday.
“Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves. Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention,” ARM said in a statement accompanying the video that was posted on Facebook and Vimeo.
“This resulted in extreme pain and suffering by the calves, and in some cases permanent injury and even death.”
How was the animal abuse discovered?
ARM, which was established in 2010, describes itself as a “vanguard not-for-profit organization, dedicated to eliminating extreme animal cruelty operations worldwide.” The group, which promotes plant-based lifestyles, said that the footage was taken by an undercover investigator who recorded the animal abuse in 2018 while working at Fair Oaks Farms, which is roughly 75 miles south of Chicago.
The group says the investigator worked at the farm, which has previously been a popular site for school field trips and group tours, for several months. ARM also says that it did not set out to target Fair Oaks, but rather had its investigator apply to several farms in the area. The Fairlife supplier in Indiana was the first to offer a position.
Why stores are pulling Fairlife products
After the footage was posted on Tuesday and received fierce backlash from hundreds of commenters, food markets and convenience stores — including Jewel-Osco (which is the largest grocery store chain in Chicago), Tony’s Fresh, Casey’s and Family Express — began removing Fairlife products from dairy fridges.
“At Jewel-Osco we strive to maintain high animal welfare standards across all areas of our business, and work in partnership with our vendors to ensure those standards are upheld,” a spokesperson for the grocery chain told TODAY Food. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Tony’s Express, which is also based in the Chicago metro area, said it will no longer carry Fairlife products “in light of the devastating news.”
“Thank you for voicing your concerns. We truly appreciate your understanding,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to the Chicago-Sun Times.