Animal protection organization Mercy For Animals is asking Wendy's Co. to end its supplier relationship with Bettencourt Dairies in Murtaugh, Idaho, which is accused of extreme abuse of its dairy cows.
The California organization also is asking Wendy's to adopt animal-welfare guidelines that call for zero tolerance of animal cruelty by suppliers.
At a press conference in Columbus this morning, Mercy For Animals released video footage showing three Bettencourt employees beating, kicking, jumping on, and shocking cows, and twisting their tails.
The Dublin-based fast-food company is three steps removed from Bettencourt -- Wendy's buys cheese from a supplier that gets its cheese from a factory that makes its cheese out of milk from the Idaho dairy.
"We are appalled by the video," Wendy's said in a written statement. "However, Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek Dairy in Idaho is not a supplier of Wendy's."
"We have instructed Wendy's supplier to disassociate with Bettencourt immediately. Wendy's maintains stringent animal-welfare standards with our suppliers."
The video also showed employees dragging a downed cow with a tractor, as well as sick or injured animals with open wounds, broken bones and infections.
"Bettencourt Dairy is appalled by the images depicted in the video," which has taken several steps to address the situation, the dairy company said in an online statement.
"Because of our commitment to our dairy herd, animal abuse or misuse has a zero-tolerance policy and is dealt with as swiftly as possible," Bettencourt said in its statement.
The Idaho dairy company said it has fired five employees identified in the video, taken by a Mercy For Animals member who went undercover this summer by getting a job at the dairy company's Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, Idaho.
Three workers of Bettencourt, which is the largest dairy in Idaho, have been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, according to Associated Press.
Bettencourt has showed the video to all of its dairy employees, and each employee has signed an acknowledgment of the zero-tolerance policy, the company said.
Bettencourt also said it began interviewing employees alongside U.S. Department of Agriculture officials within hours of viewing the video.
"We have been, and will continue to fully cooperate with USDA through their investigation," Bettencourt said.
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