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IU dining takes action after Fair Oaks animal abuse videos


Fairlife milk stands in the dairy section June 10 at Kroger. The milk is distributed in the United States by Coca Cola. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

Videos of animal abuse came from Fair Oaks, a northwestern Indiana dairy farm and agricultural tourist attraction, are prompting Residential Programs and Services to remove all of its products from IU dining.

An investigator from a Miami-based animal rights group secretly recorded alarming videos of Fair Oaks employees kicking and throwing newborn calves, hitting them with steel rods and branding them. The videos also show employees taking what appears to be cocaine and Fair Oaks property being used to grow what appeared to be marijuana plants.

Three people were charged Monday with animal cruelty by the Newton County Sheriff's Department in connection with the videos, according to the Chicago Tribune. The sheriff's office did not release the identities of the people charged or details of the allegations against them.

“The minute we found that article, our director sent a notification to all the staff to fully remove all Fair Oaks products from our system,” said Susan Herr, system support manager for IU dining.

IU Dining received a 100% refund for all products it removed, Herr said. It only had to remove a couple of retail items since none of its  recipes contained products from Fair Oaks. It will continue to use Prairie Farms for its dairy.

Fair Oaks released a statement Tuesday outlining the steps it will take to eliminate further abuse from happening and to ensure its farms remain compliant with the National Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program.

“We will take immediate and corrective action towards any employee who may be found abusing animals,” the statement said.  “This action will include employee retraining, probation or termination and, if appropriate, legal action.”

Although Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said the company was not aware of the abuse, it is taking full responsibility. The farmers who were in the videos have been fired.

Even though Fair Oaks is having retraining and corrective programs, Indiana Animal Rights Alliance executive director Joel Kerr said he thinks it will not make a difference on dairy farms.

“They can train and do whatever they want to try to clean things up, but the violence is inherent in the industry,” Kerr said. “There’s no way to escape from it.”

The Newton County Sheriff's office is investigating allegations and is requesting the names of the person who filmed the videos and the workers that appeared in them, according to a statement released Wednesday. It will work with the county prosecutor's office to assess whether it will file any criminal charges.

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