DiGiorno, the nation's largest frozen pizza company announced Tuesday morning they will no longer accept milk products from Wiese Brothers Farm in Appleton, Wisc. after an undercover video of alleged brutal abuse to dairy cows appeared on NBC News.
The heartbreaking and disturbing video was recorded by an undercover investigator from Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farm animals and who have become the voices for the most defenseless.
"Over 95% of the cruelty to animals in the United States occurs at the hands of the meat, dairy, and egg industries which confine, mutilate, and slaughter over 8 billion land animals each year."
The investigation spanned October and November; the video showing a cow hoisted into the air by her hind quarters calling out in obvious pain, fear, and distress, sick and injured cows dragged by ropes as workers kicked them, cows being poked with sticks and other sharp objects bleeding from their sides, and the sheer brutality of the most egregious and callous animal abuse ever shown on video.
Nestle, DiGiorno pizza's manufacturer, who confirmed Nestle gets cheese products from an Appleton, Wisc. supplier that uses milk from Wiese Brothers Farm stated,“we will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm.”
In a statement to ABC News Tuesday morning, Nestle stated:
"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. You can find more information on our commitment to Farm Animal Welfare at www.nestle.com/csv/responsible-sourcing/animal-welfare. We will not knowingly work with companies that violate our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines."
The cheese supplier, Foremost Farms USA has also discontinued its relationship with Wiese Brothers Farm stating they were extremely disappointed by the treatment of the animals as depicted in the video.
As for the owners of the Wiese Brothers Farm, two employees have allegedly been fired and one employee removed from "animal handling."
Nathan Runkle, the executive director and founder of Mercy for Animals told NBC News:
“No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate and neglect animals. Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, DiGiorno has allowed a culture of cruelty to flourish in its cheese supply chain.”
An investigation by the Brown County Sheriff's Department is now being conducted.
The Wiese family issued the following statement to ABC News and are cooperating with local law enforcement agencies:
"Two employees have been terminated. A third employee has been removed from animal handling responsibilities. Further action will be taken if the investigation warrants it. Additionally, three employees have been identified as specialists who will supervise the care and handling of any cow unable to get up without assistance."
World renown farm animal welfare expert, Temple Grandin stated the video depicted animal cruelty and condemned DiGiorno's supplier stating:
"Dragging live cows, and completely suspending them with the cow lift is severe animal abuse. 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."
Please be warned the video is extremely graphic and may not be suitable for all viewing audiences.
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