How Should In-N-Out Burger Respond?

The biggest animal story of the month regards this week’s Compassion Over Killing investigation of an In-N-Out Burger supplier. Shocking footage displaying all manner of cruelties was shown last night on ABC News.

Unfortunately In-N-Out’s response so far has been both inadequate and inept. The company’s Chief Operating Officer wrote in this public statement:

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.

If In-N-Out Burger’s standards for animal welfare are indeed “strict,” then what accounts for the horrifying scenes shown on the video? It’s clear the company isn’t yet taking the matter seriously, and it has yet to enact measures to ensure comparable cruelties aren’t happening right now at its other suppliers. Here’s the response I would write, describing the actions I would initiate, if I was put in charge of leading the company’s response:

In-N-Out burger has always aspired to be the best burger chain in the United States. We don’t just lead the way on taste, we lead the way in both working conditions for our employees and living conditions for the animals we source. This past week, we discovered that we’ve failed as a company to live up to our obligations to animals.

While we had an employee in charge of checking up on Central Valley Meat, he somehow didn’t detect the apparently rampant cruelty happening at the facility. We sincerely apologize for this failure, and will do whatever it takes to ensure it will never happen again. Therefore, starting this autumn, we are going to require video cameras to be installed at every slaughterhouse that supplies us. And these video cameras will not just be for our use—they’ll be for yours as well. Beginning in December of 2012, all our cameras will go live on the web.

For people who love hamburgers and fries, we want In-N-Out burger to not just be the place for the best burgers, but also the place you can always feel good about patronizing. And we hope our response to this week’s tragic disclosure convinces you that we deserve your business more than ever.

You might read this and respond that In-N-Out Burger would never agree to go this far, but the truth is they can’t afford not to. Video streaming is the only method by which In-N-Out can offer adequate proof that their welfare standards are consistently being met. And the money required to install webcams at their suppliers is so tiny as to be trivial.

If In-N-Out Burger refuses to lead its industry by installing video cams, I bet they’ll find themselves at the center of another investigation in 2013—and what could the company possibly say then?

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