September 7, 2015
Responsible cat guardians religiously read cat food labels: meat as a first ingredient, corn-free, organic etc. And they’re aware of the invisible monsters in their pet’s bowl. But how many cat guardians are aware of the possible slave labor hidden in their cat’s bowl?
Hundreds Enslaved, Beaten or Even Murdered Over Cat Food
Nestlé S.A. is in hot water again. (This time it has nothing to do with bottling California’s water during an ongoing drought.) As reported in Bloomberg, Nestlé is accused of adding fish sourced from slave labor in their cat food.
Under the Purina umbrella, some of Nestlé’s most popular cat foods include: Fancy Feast, Friskies, Felix, Cat Chow, One, Muse, Pro Plan and Beyond. At least one of those brands — Fancy Feast — allegedly contains fish from a Thailand supplier that uses slave labor, and four consumers are now suing Nestlé over it. The four disenchanted consumers assert that they represent all California buyers who unknowingly purchased Fancy Feast products with alleged ties to slave labor.
Nestlé says: “Slave labor has no place in our supply chain,” but they’re working with a local NGO “to identify where and why forced labor and human rights abuses may be taking place.”
The four plaintiffs say: They feel “tricked” into supporting such gross human violations. In a statement, Steve Berman, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, explains:
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.Hooked on ‘Sea Slaves’
No one should die over producing food, but it happens every day. According to Free the Slaves, there are an estimated 21 to 36 million slaves all over the world who generate $150 billion each year. The most common forms of contemporary slavery are: labor slavery (78%), sex slavery (26%) and child slavery (22%)
While the people producing our pet’s food are a combination of labor and child slaves, The New York Times calls them “sea slaves.” Impoverished men and boys — reports show that there are boys as young as 9 years old — commonly from Myanmar and Cambodia are bought and sold, brokered and smuggled into Thailand; they find themselves hooked in Thailand’s booming fishing industry.
The immigrant men and boys often arrive to Thailand without speaking Thai or knowing how to swim. Some are shackled by the neck, resold at different ports and disappear on “ghost ships,” or unregistered ships. Apart from the beatings, life on these vessels is hellish: some have lost fingers in the labor, they sleep in hot, confined spaces, they eat a bowl of rice with some “throwaway fish” once a day, they spend hours in the elements and roaches and rats are common stowaways.
While it would be easy to blame Thailand’s government, the United States is just as culpable. The United States is the biggest consumer of this “sea slave” caught fish. The average American cat eats a whopping 30 pounds of fish every year. In case you needed more proof that Americans love their cats — cats here eat double the amount of fish as an American citizen.
Fancy Feast’s current motto is: The best ingredient is love. The best thing Nestlé can do now is to ensure that slave and child labor aren’t in their products. Please sign and share this petition urging Nestlé to help end Thailand’s sea slavery.