Irvine-based fast-food chain In-N-Out severed ties with a Central California slaughterhouse after learning that the facility is being investigated for potentially inhumane treatment of cows.
In-N-Out executives said they cut off their supplier agreement with Central Valley Meat Co. on Sunday night, immediately after hearing accusations that animals at the plant were being shocked, shot and pulled to slaughter stations despite often being unable to stand or walk.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture shut the Hanford site Monday after viewing a video from animal rights advocacy group Compassion Over Killing.
According to the Associated Press, the undercover footage shows pre-slaughter cows bleeding and thrashing after failed attempts to render them unconscious using a pneumatic gun.
In-N-Out, a popular West Coast chain, said Central Valley was one of five beef suppliers on its roster. Each week, the slaughterhouse supplied roughly 20% of the meat used to make the company's hamburger patties, according to Carl Van Fleet, the chain's executive vice president of planning and development.
"For the time being, our existing suppliers are making up the shortfall," Van Fleet said.
Central Valley also supplies a number of other food-service customers.
Federal regulators are investigating whether some of the cows slaughtered for human consumption were lame or sick. The latter is illegal.
In-N-Out said it requires suppliers to meet USDA requirements and occasionally conducts unannounced spot inspections of supplier facilities to ensure compliance. Partners sign agreements promising not to sell meat from so-called downer cattle that are unable to move.
"In-N-Out Burger would never condone the inhumane treatment of animals and all of our suppliers must agree to abide by our strict standards for the humane treatment of cattle," In-N-Out Chief Operating Officer Mark Taylor said in a statement.