NEW ORLEANS — Winn-Dixie and Rouse’s are among a group of grocers who have taken action surrounding Fairlife Dairy products after an animal rights group released graphic videos that allegedly show workers kicking and throwing young calves at the Indiana dairy farm.
Both Rouses and Winn-Dixie Tweeted out statements saying that their companies were concerned about the allegations and citing the action they had taken.
“Due to the unsettling information surrounding animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network, the Rouse family is suspending the purchase of Fairlife milk at this time,” a tweet on Rouses Market's Twitter account said.
"We are disturbed by these allegations and appalled by the cruelty shown toward the animals in the investigative report," a statement on Winn-Dixie's corporate Facebook Page said. Winn-Dixie said it was removing Fairlife products from its shelves as it talks to the supplier about the allegations.
The animal rights group Animal Recovery Mission released video last week showing calves being abused, including being thrown and kicked in the head, at Fair Oaks Farms.
The group said that the footage shows the "daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals" at the farm's dairies about 70 miles south of Chicago.
"Due to the many years Fair Oaks Farms has been in business, it is impossible to number the amount of calves and cows that have inhumanely died at the hands of this company," said Rachel Taylor, a spokeswoman for Animal Recovery Mission.
Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk.
Valparaiso, Indiana-based Family Express operates convenience stores across Indiana. The company said in a statement that it's pulling Fairlife products, saying "the exposé of animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network is chilling."
The video shows newborn calves being thrown in and out of their huts by employees, young calves being kicked in the head and the carcasses of dead calves piled together in the dirt. The footage additionally shows employees striking calves with their hands and steel rods and being burnt with branding irons.
Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a statement Tuesday that four employees seen in the video have been fired and actions have been taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person shown in the video was a third-party truck driver who was transporting calves, he said.
"As a veterinarian whose life and work is dedicated to the care, comfort and safety of all animals, this has affected me deeply," McCloskey said. "I am disappointed for not being aware of this kind of awful treatment occurring, and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I also take full responsibility to correct and ensure that every employee understands, embraces and practices the core values on which our organization stands."
A portion of the video also showed what appeared to be an employee using cocaine in a work vehicle on site, while other footage showed what appeared to be marijuana plants being grown on the property.
McCloskey described the plants in his statement as an invasive perennial species.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Wednesday that it's requested the names of the now-fired workers and the person who shot the footage. The agency said it would work with the county prosecutor's office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed.
"We acknowledge the need for humane treatment of animals and the need to hold individuals that have gone beyond an acceptable farm management practice accountable for their actions," the department said in its statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.