Nestle says “forced labour has no place in our supply chain” following a US class action lawsuit that alleges that the Swiss food company knowingly supported a system of slave labour and human trafficking to make its Fancy Feast cat food. Nestle didn’t deny the allegations but said its guidelines require suppliers to respect human rights. It outlined steps Nestle has taken to rid forced labour from its supply chain. It is imperative to state that the Hagens Bermn law firm filed the suit on behalf of pet food purchasers. The law firm said that the plaintiffs believe that they wouldn’t have brought the seafood based pet food if they had known “slave labour” was used to obtain some ingredients in the products imported by Nestle.
The lawsuit said that Nestle works with Thai Union Frozen Product Plc to import more than 28 million pounds of seafood based pet food for top brands sold in the United States. The lawsuit goes on to allege that some of the ingredients in those products came from slave labour. Men and boys trafficked from Myanmar and Cambodia are sold to fishing boat captains who need crews aboard their ship. The lawsuit said that many of them were working 20-hour shifts with little or no pay and facing beatings or even death if the work is deemed unsatisfactory.
Nestle on its part acknowledged that enforcing its strict code of conduct throughout the complex, multi-layered supply chain in the Thai food industry that supplies some ingredients for its products was a challenge. It is imperative to state that Nestle has been facing scrutiny even in India where one of its biggest selling product, Maggi, was banned on the back of health concerns which was seen as a huge negative for the company in the near term.