Some Grocers Pulling Fairlife After Alleged Animal Abuse
Fairlife is on the defensive after a video released by activist group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) shows animal abuse at one of its dairy suppliers, Fair Oaks Farms.
An ARM investigator was hired as a calf care employee between August and November 2018 when he shot the video footage at the Fair Oaks, Ind.-based farm owned by veterinarian Mike McCloskey.
Since the video release, some supermarkets such as Itasca, Ill.-based Jewel-Osco with 187 stores (owned by Albertsons) and local Chicago grocer Tony's Fresh Market have pulled Fairlife products, according to the Chicago Tribune.
All parties involved have also released statements on the issue.
"It is with great disappointment to find, after closely reviewing the released ARM video, that there were five individuals committing multiple instances of animal cruelty and despicable judgement," McCloskey said in a video response. "I am disgusted by and take full responsibility for the actions seen in the footage, as it goes against everything that we stand for in regards to responsible cow care and comfort. The employees featured in the video exercised a complete and total disregard for the documented training that all employees go through to ensure the comfort, safety and well-being of our animals."
All four of the employees have since been terminated (three of them before ARM's video became public, after being reported by other farm employees), and the fifth individual worked for a transportation company and will not be allowed on the farm again.
Fairlife has said that Fair Oaks Farms represents less than 5 percent of Fairlife's total milk supply, has immediately suspended milk deliveries from the dairy and plans to take proactive action at other locations.
"Approximately 30 dairies support Fairlife; therefore, we are visiting all supplying dairies in person and conducting independent 3rd party audits within the next 30 days to verify all animal husbandry practices at the farms," the company said in a statement. "We will also continue to work with Fair Oaks Farms to ensure specific actions are taken to address this situation and uphold our high standards for animal care."
Chicago-based Fairlife is distributed by Coca-Cola, which said in a statement: "We fully support and respect the proactive approach that Fairlife and Fair Oaks Farms have taken and we continue to stay in contact with them to lend any support they need."