Fairlife Controversy: In June 2019, undercover video of horrible animal abuse at a dairy farm that supplied milk to Fairlife went viral. This caused many customers to stop buying milk from Fairlife, which had said it cared about animal welfare.
Now, as the Fairlife milk animal abuse scandal is coming up on its two-year anniversary, many people are wondering what happened at Fair Oaks Farms, why people are boycotting Fairlife, and what they can do to stop animal abuse.
An investigation by Fairlife Milk found that animals were mistreated at Fair Oaks Farm
Early in 2019, an investigator for the animal rights group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) got a job as a “milker” at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, which, according to ARM, supplies milk to Fairlife and other companies. During the few months he worked there, he went undercover and filmed the dairy farm. This gave ARM “undeniable evidence of the inherent cruelty dairy cows face every day in industrialized food production systems.”
In June 2019, ARM released a video (warning: it’s brutal) of the investigator’s most shocking footage, which quickly went viral. People all over the world were shocked to learn that the farm had been used in such a cruel way for no reason.
“Employees were seen slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing, and slamming calves,” ARM said at the time, according to TODAY. “Calves were stabbed and hit with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons,
put in extreme temperatures, given bad food, and not given medical care. “This caused the calves a lot of pain and suffering, and in some cases, they were permanently hurt or even died,” the statement said.
Both Fair Oaks Farms and Fairlife have built their brands around taking care of animals, as ARM said. Fairlife’s website says that taking care of the animals that give milk for their products is one of their top priorities. Fair Oaks Farms says that they are “committed to… caring for our animals.”
People choose these products because they think they are better because of claims like these. But this video was a wake-up call for everyone who eats dairy.
People reacted by not buying Fairlife milk
Was able to make it through 15 seconds of that fairlife video 😭 I will never understand how anyone could hurt an animal. Those poor calves 😭 #boycottfairlife
— Aimee Christopher (@aimeeee_MC) May 27, 2021
As soon as the video came out, many people vowed to stop buying Fairlife milk and instead buy milk from other brands. Some people stopped eating dairy all together and switched to milk, cheese, and ice cream made without dairy.
The dairy business unfortunately has a lot of practices like the ones at Fair Oaks Farm. Even though Fairlife’s investigation went viral more than any other undercover footage from a dairy farm, there have been many other videos and documentaries that show animal cruelty in the dairy industry and in animal agriculture as a whole.
TODAY says that Jewel-Osco, Tony’s Fresh, Casey’s, and Family Express were among the grocery stores in the Midwest that stopped selling Fairlife products. This was the most powerful move.
Here’s how Fairlife and the Coca-Cola Company reacted to the controversy
The Coca-Cola Company owns Fairlife. In response to the undercover video, the company said that Fairlife stopped getting milk from Fair Oaks Farms as soon as the video came out and that Fairlife planned to start an animal welfare advisory council of experts.
On the brand’s website, you can learn more about the audits Fairlife promised to do. However, the brand said it already had governance measures in place before the investigation, so many customers may not trust these new procedures.
The Fairlife investigation by ARM showed that there is no real way to know what goes on behind closed doors on a farm. People who saw the heartbreaking footage were asked by ARM to sign a petition, ask stores to stop selling Fairlife, and stop eating dairy products.
Not only is giving up dairy good for the animals, but it’s also good for the environment. A study from the University of Oxford found that cow’s milk makes about three times as many greenhouse gas emissions as vegan milks on average.