Extreme animal cruelty in buffalo mozzarella production: Dutch NGO

Animal Welfare organization Vier Voeters is shocked over the assumed mistreatment of male calves in the production of buffalo mozzarella in Italy. Buffalo mozzarella is available in every supermarket and is especially popular with vegetarians, writes Nieuws.nl.

Barbara van Genne, campaign leader of Vier Voeters thinks that this news will hit vegetarians the hardest. She went on to say that the DOC label of approval along with the higher price tag can lead to the impression that animal welfare is being maintained when in fact the opposite is true.

While buffalo milk is used in the production of buffalo mozzarella, buffalo meat is rarely eaten, making bull calves undesirable. According to the animal activists these animals are being killed in brutal and illegal manners. This includes being killed with hammers, drowned in a thick layer of feces and being starved. The buffaloes are kept in too small enclosures with untreated wounds and have either very dirty or no drinking water.

Secretly recording the conversation, a member of Vier Voeters asked different buffalo farmers what happens to the bull calves, nieuws.nl reports. The answer was that the bull calves are useless as they produce no milk. One of the farmers said that he slays the male calves with a hammer. Another told that he simply does not feed the bull calves and goes to check on them after two or three days. According to the foundation bull calves are drowned in the manure pit by other farmers.

Van Genne continued that management and structural improvements in the area of animal welfare and hygiene are absolutely necessary on the buffalo farms in Italy, continuing on the current path is not an option. The foundation calls upon Albert Heijn and Jumbo, among others, to demand improvement on living conditions from their suppliers.

Nieuws.nl reports that an employee of Superunie, the purchasing organization for Jumbo, indicated that he cannot respond to questions from the press at the moment. Albert Heijn could not respond directly to the allegations from Vier Voeters.

The living conditions of the mature animals can also be improved. They are being kept in a dry environment, standing in a layer of their own excrement. The foundation points out that buffaloes have a thicker skin and smaller sweat glands than cows. They need to be supplied with mud baths or a sprinkling system to help them cool down, which most buffalo farms do not have.  Furthermore, these animals aren't being supplied with clean drinking water.

Vier Voeters has compiled the following guidelines to help improve this situation.
Stop the brutal killing of male calves.
Proper care and medical treatment.
Access to mud baths or a sprinkling system.
Clean drinking water.
Regular monitoring of buffalo farms.

Vier Voeters asks supermarkets to keep to these guidelines when considering suppliers.