Four consumers of Fancy Feast cat food have sued Nestle S.A. over claims that the food contains fish from a Thai supplier that uses slave labor.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, seeks to represent all California buyers of Fancy Feast who would not have bought the product if they knew the fish was allegedly harvested using slave labor.
“By hiding this from public view, Nestle has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons,” Steve Berman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “It’s a fact that the thousands of purchasers of its top selling pet food products would not have bought this brand had they known the truth — that hundreds of individuals are enslaved, beaten or even murdered in the production of its pet food.”
Nestle has declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said forced labor “has no place in our supply chain.” The company said it is working with non-governmental organization Verite to “to identify where and why forced labor and human rights abuses may be taking place” in Thailand and southeast Asia.
A July article in the New York Times chronicled the lives of several men forced into labor on fishing boats in the South China Sea, off the coast of Thailand. These boats catch fish that are later shipped to the US and other places to be used in pet food and livestock feed.
Some of the fish caught on these boats is sent to a cannery called the Songkla Canning Public Company, which is a subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products, Thailand’s largest seafood company. According to US customs documents, more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based cat and dog food in the past year for brands sold in the US, including Iams, Meow Mix and Fancy Feast.
Nestle SA was sued over claims that its Fancy Feast cat food contains fish from a Thai supplier that uses slave labour. The complaint against the Swiss food giant follows one last week accusing Costco Wholesale Corp. of selling farmed shrimp from Thailand, where slave labour and human trafficking in the fishing industry are allegedly widespread.
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