After an alarming video surfaced showing Winchester Dairy workers in New Mexico kicking, punching, and exhibiting other shocking acts of animal cruelty toward dairy cows, Leprino Foods — the largest mozzarella distributor in the world — decided to take action. Winchester Dairy is just one of the many major dairy farms that produce raw milk for the cheese distributor.In December, three months after animal rights activists circulated the video online, Leprino Foods implemented a new animal care welfare policy that will go into effect by the end of 2015, with cow tail-docking to be eliminated by 2016. Animal rights groups are applauding the efforts of Leprino Foods to make sure that they never buy milk from a farm with abusive practices again.
"It's heartening to see Leprino Foods step up to the plate and utilize its power and influence within the dairy industry to improve the lives of animals,” said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals, in a statement this week. “We hope other dairy corporations will quickly follow suit.”
The Leprino Quality Animal Care (LQAC) program requires farms to comply with second-party on-farm evaluations every one to three years and implement a written “Herd Health Plan,” an annual employee-signed Code of Ethics, annual employee training, and randomized third-party audits.
“In our business, it’s all about high-quality milk,” said Mike Reidy, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Leprino Foods, in a statement. “We know that healthy, comfortable cows that are well-fed, maintained, and cared for will always be the best and most productive source of high-quality milk. It’s our intent with this policy to be a positive force and industry leader in promoting animal health and wellness, including rigorous animal care standards and audit requirements.”
Animal rights have been making headlines recently. Chipotle is currently in the middle of a pork shortage after they decided to no longer use a pork distributor who failed to comply with animal welfare standards.