On Saturday, California Pizza Kitchen’s First Street location in Denver will be a target for a protest by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals a.k.a. PETA. The protest tops off a well-attended visit to Denver this week by the group’s co-founder and president, Ingrid Newkirk. Newkirk sparked controversy when she posed naked in a cage to promote her quest for animal welfare.
PETA issued a press release yesterday that included a link to a video that shows farm workers burning the horn buds off the heads of squirming calves and lopping horns off live calves with pruning shears.
The released stated that “California Pizza Kitchen's cheese suppliers painfully dehorn cows. Common methods of dehorning include removing their horns or sensitive horn tissue using searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, blades, or hand saws.”
PETA’s stated goal is to convince consumers to force the upscale pizza chain to require its suppliers to obtain cheese from naturally hornless, or "polled," cows. PETA’s website explains that hornless cows are widely the norm in the beef industry and that the cruel de-horning practice doesn’t need to take place.
“PETA has shared this information with California Pizza Kitchen and asked that it require its cheese suppliers to phase out the practice, yet the company has refused to act to put an end to this horrific suffering.”
The company’s website includes a disclaimer that warns that “ingredients or production methods used by our suppliers may change without notice, and there may be product differences among regional suppliers. The Playa Vista, CA-based chain, with over 260 US locations, has kept a lower profile than some other popular chains such as Denver-based Chipotle, which continues to pitch hormone-free meat.
“….we continue to be committed to the elimination of antibiotics that are used to promote growth in livestock being raised in confinement operations,” Chipotle co-CEO and founder Steve Ells told Denver Business Wire just two weeks ago.
California Pizza Kitchen has so far avoided such strong statements.
“Normal kitchen operations involve shared cooking and preparation areas and cross-contact
with other foods may occur during production, or we may need to substitute ingredients in menu items.
We are therefore unable to guaranty that any menu item is completely free from animal products, it’s official statement says. CPK’s web-based menu does, however, provide extensive information for vegetarians on what ingredients are vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
The menu even goes as far as explaining the different types of vegetarians (such as “lacto-vegetarians”, who eat dairy products, “ovo-vegetarians”, who eat eggs, and “lactovo-vegaterians” who eat both. Vegans, which the menu site describes as “the strictest type of vegetarian” consume no animal products of any kind.) and provides a list of dietarily-acceptable ingredients for each type.
Until California Pizza Kitchen can guarantee its cheese all comes from hornless cows, PETA will likely maintain that the chain isn’t going far enough to prevent cruelty to animals.