Cat lovers accuse Nestle of selling ‘slave-labored’ pet food, want refund
Several people representing “a nationwide class of pet food purchasers” have filed a complaint alleging that the manufacturer of the pet food they have been buying for years works with “companies that rely on slave labor,” according to attorneys at the Hagens Berman consumer-rights class-action law firm.
“Based upon information and belief and upon investigation of Plaintiffs’ counsel,” the group has alleged that slave labor is being used in a supply chain for Nestle’s Fancy Feast cat food. One of the varieties of this pet food “include[s] seafood caught from the tropical waters between Thailand and Indonesia,” the complaint, filed this week in the US District Court for the Central District of California, said.
“Nestle is presently not able to trace the fish that it imports back to the fishing boats that source it, much less ensure that the fist is not the product of slave labor. And meanwhile Nestle continues to profit from the slave labor that supplies its fish. This is shameful,” the document stated.
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“To import its pet food into the United States,” the company has worked with Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, concerned customers said, adding that the latter “has shipped more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food for some of the top brands sold in America” in the past year.
To catch the fish used in these products, Nestle’s Thai partner has allegedly relied on forced or slave labor. “Had Plaintiffs and Class Members known the truth, they would not have purchased Nestle’s pet food or paid as much for them,” the document said.
Largely based on a recent New York Times story, the complaint states that the fish used to produce the pet food originally come from fishing boats which are “floating labor camps,” as the Times has named them. Men and boys “often trafficked from Thailand’s poorer neighbors such as Cambodia and Burma” work as “modern day slaves” on those boats, the complaint said.
“America’s largest and most profitable food conglomerates should not tolerate slave labor anywhere in their supply chains,” the plaintiffs stressed, blaming Nestle for violating several California Codes, including the Unfair Competition Law and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
“Although Nestle recognizes that the use of slave labor in its supply chain is wrong and its corporate business principles explicitly forbid slave labor by its suppliers, it materially omits to disclose to consumers purchasing Fancy Feast the likelihood that slave labor was used to source the seafood making up the product,” the complaint said.
The plaintiffs purchasing the Fancy Feast pet food “have suffered injury in fact, including the loss of money” as a result of such “deceptive practices,” they said, adding that they ask the court to award the plaintiffs a sum equal to all of the money they have spent on it.
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Without commenting on the lawsuit itself, the company said in an e-mail statement that forced labor “has no place in our supply chain,” Bloomberg reported. In the original New York Times article, Nestle Vice President of Corporate Communications Lisa K. Gibby said the company was “working hard to ensure that forced labor is not used to produce its pet food.”