Grana Padano: documents from new investigation reveal shocking conditions on another farm


Grana Padano: documents from new investigation reveal shocking conditions on another farm

28 September 2021
Essere Animali
Two months after the release of an initial investigation, Essere Animali is releasing today a new video filmed on another dairy farm producing Grana Padano, the most widely consumed PDO cheese in the world. The footage shows dead calves, and exposes serious hygienic and sanitary neglect by the farm management, with animals forced to live and give birth among their own excrements.

Bologna, 29 September - After the release of an initial investigation on a dairy farm producing Grana Padano, which documented unacceptable living conditions for calves and violence by workers towards the animals, Essere Animali is publishing a new video filmed on another farm.

By releasing this second investigation, Essere Animali wishes to respond to the objections of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium, which previously dismissed the documented problems as isolated cases.

The new investigation exposes conditions on a farm located in the province of Brescia (Italy). The dairy production site is located next to the sheds which house some 1,000 animals, including cows and calves.

The undercover video by Essere Animali reveals:

• The presence of many dead calves, who died on the farm;

• Obvious hygienic and sanitary shortcomings, which indicate general neglect in the management of the farm;

• The birth of calves and ensuing separation from their mothers;

• The sheltering of calves in individual pens.

“With the first investigation on a farm in the province of Bergamo, we documented violence and insulting behaviour towards animals, while this new video of a farm in the province of Brescia shows inconceivable conditions of neglect, with animals forced to live in enclosures that are flooded or covered with excrement to the point that they struggle to move. Calves are also born in an unsanitary environment, conditions that presumably contribute to the high mortality rate found on the farm. With our investigations, we have unfortunately demonstrated that irregularities on factory farms are not isolated cases,” commented Simone Montuschi, President of Essere Animali.

The footage also highlights the maltreatment of calves on dairy farms, in particular the separation of calves from their mothers – which takes place immediately after birth – and their subsequent solitary confinement in small individual pens.

These practices are permitted by law and are carried out on almost all dairy farms, including those producing milk for ‘premium’ Italian products such as Grana Padano, but various studies demonstrate that such practices subject animals to social deprivation, stress, and suffering.

With the release of this investigation, Essere Animali is relaunching the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup for Animals, an organisation that brings together 79 animal protection NGOs in 24 EU member states, as well as the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia, and the US.

These organisations are calling on the European Commission - which is committed to the Farm to Fork strategy, an initiative aimed at making the European food system fairer, healthier and more environmentally friendly - to revise the legislation on the protection of farm animals, which is currently considered grossly inadequate to guarantee them a life free from avoidable suffering.

With regard to the conditions of calves, Essere Animali and Eurogroup for Animals are calling for a revision of the current EU animal welfare laws to:

• Allow contact between the calf and the mother for at least eight weeks after birth, during which the animals must be kept in a system that provides for contact for at least half the day, with suckling permitted;

• Provide shelter that meets the behavioural needs of calves, which should be raised in groups and have access to outdoor areas

“This latest investigation proves for the upteenth time that most dairy farms don’t respect basic animal welfare rules but on the contrary, that calves and cows are treated as mere commodities. The revision of the legislation on farm animals is the opportunity for the European Commission to change once and for all this situation without leaving a single animal behind”, commented Reinke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.

Link to the video

Photos, credit “Essere Animali”

Overview of the Grana Padano industry

Grana Padano is the most widely consumed PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese in the world. The Grana Padano Protection Consortium is the body responsible for the functions of protection, promotion, enhancement, consumer information and general care of the interests relating to Grana Padano in its character as a PDO product.

129 producers, 153 seasoners and 160 packers and graters are geographically distributed in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Trentino-Alto Adige and Piedmont.

According to the Consortium's figures, 5,255,451 units were produced in 2020, with 41% of branded cheese exported and 59% consequently consumed in Italy. Europe, with 1,774,007 units, accounts for almost 84% of the exports of Grana Padano PDO, with Germany as the main destination (567,028 units), followed by France (242,586 units), the Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – (166,734 units) and Spain (115,521 units). The US is the main international market (152,667 units), followed by the UK (146,206 units) and Switzerland (124,116 units).