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FOUR PAWS investigates buffalo mozzarella: a premium product with hidden cruelty



© FOUR PAWS

Buffalo mozzarella is a popular product on the cooling shelf. Buffalo mozzarella aficionados often are unaware of the circumstances under which the cheese is produced. In summer 2014, FOUR PAWS published footage and revealed that buffalo mozzarella – mostly perceived as a premium product – is not produced under premium conditions. 


Buffalo husbandry has changed – as have many other animal husbandries

Extensive keeping with regular pasture access has been replaced with intensive systems which bring about many animal welfare problems. Buffaloes with overgrown claws, very high stocking density or swellings on the withers can be found on a regular basis. The latter problems are results of inappropriate barn equipment that harms the animals. Overgrown claws are consequences of rarely provided pasture access; therefore claws are not worn down naturally. Regular claw treatment is not carried out as the animals are more and more neglected. FOUR PAWS criticizes that there is no EU-wide regulation of buffalo keeping und buffalo welfare. The lack of specie-specific regulations means that buffalo remain unprotected. 



© FOUR PAWS

Male buffalo calves an “unnecessary by-product”?

The situation of the male calves is the biggest animal welfare problem we have discovered during our investigations. As only a small percentage is raised for breeding purposes the rest is treated like an unwanted by-product of the buffalo mozzarella production. In this context criminal acts are also carried out! Over the last past years Italian authorities have regularly reported findings of illegally killed calves. However, even if the male calves are not illegally killed, an immense ethical problem remains as the male calves are sent to slaughter at the young age of 20 days.


What FOUR PAWS has achieved

Our work led to an increased awareness of buffalo welfare among consumers and relevant players of the buffalo mozzarella production. Additionally, we have been in contact with supermarkets and producers thereby ensuring that these players live up to their animal welfare responsibilities.

 

As an animal welfare organisation we can point the finger on abuses and offer solutions. The responsibility now lies with supermarkets, importers, producers, consumers and last but not least the political players to tackle problems and improve the status quo. FOUR PAWS demands a buffalo-specific legislation and strong controls on buffalo farms to end the suffering of buffaloes. 


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