Nestlé and Danone Might Be Added to Brazil’s Slavery Dirty List

Global food companies Danone and Dairy Partners Americas Brasil (DPA), partly owned by Nestlé, are in danger of being added to Brazil’s “dirty list” of companies that have engaged in slave labor, government officials announced.

The list is considered one of the country’s best tools to fight slave labor. Organizations that appear on it are barred from accessing credit from state banks or other public financial support.

The two companies have been caught up in an ongoing audit of the dairy supply chain in São Paulo, said Renato Bignami, the labor inspector coordinating the audit.

“They received a notification (of the labor violations) that, if deemed well-founded, will result in the names of the two companies being added to the dirty list,” Bignami said.

Both companies denied wrongdoing.

Danone and DPA are accused of being complicit with a businessman who kept 28 people in debt bondage, because their affiliated distributors sold him their products in bulk without monitoring working conditions at his operation.

The door-to-door salesmen had been trafficked from poor regions of the state of Ceará, and made to sell soon-to-be-expired yogurt at a discount in the city of Salto, in the state of São Paulo.

Investigators found that about 70 percent of the products being sold were from Danone and Nestlé brands. The other 30 percent were from smaller companies that will also be notified over the next few weeks.

“Many workers arrived already in debt due to the cost of travel,” said Luis Alexandre Faria, the labor inspector that coordinated operations on the ground.

“They sometimes worked over 15 hours in extreme heat, cold or rain.”

While Danone and DPA were not directly involved, inspectors want to hold them accountable for not monitoring their distribution chain.

Danone Brasil, maker of products like Activia and Evian water, denied having any relationship with the businessman, and said it will fight the claim that they were complicit.

“The company emphasizes that it has worked in partnership with the Labor Secretariat to spread the company’s best practices and to be an active agent against all forms of slave labor among the more than 10,000 businesses that are part of the complex supply chain that distributes its products,” the company said in an email.

DPA, a joint venture between New-Zealand company Fonterra and Nestlé that sells refrigerated products, also said it did nothing wrong.

The company said that upon finding out about the case, on October 2018, it ceased its relationship with the distributor involved. It also said that it is in the final stages of hiring an external auditor to verify the conditions in which their micro-distributors operate.

“Beyond that, in line with its principles and corporate values, both companies (Nestlé and DPA) have come to adopt, in its distribution chain, measures to ensure that its commercial partners can contribute to the fight against work in conditions analogous to slavery,” the companies said in an email.

This article was produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Visit them at http://www.thisisplace.org

Tags:

Ads

You May Also Like

Women walk along the Dutra highway to reach Guarulhos International Airport - Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation

Victims of Human Trafficking These Women Are Jailed in Brazil as Drug Mules

Helena had been struggling to provide for her six-year-old son in Africa’s island nation ...

A worker seen in a coffee farm during operation to identify slave workers in Minas Gerais state. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Slave Workers Rescued in Brazil Were as Young as Nine

A large Brazilian tobacco exporter has been charged with using slave labor in the ...

Brazil’s Latest Fraud Case Involves US$ 2.5 billion and World’s Largest Beef Exporter

Brazilian police launched the so-called Greenfield Operation, an investigation of fraud at state-run companies’ ...

Brazilian cartoonist Laerte - Photo: Wikipedia

Laerte, a Brazilian Transgender Cartoonist Who Became a Netflix Movie

A documentary that premiered this week on Netflix explores the life of a Brazilian ...

A pedestrian-filled street in São Paulo.

Trying to Understand Brazil’s 20% Homicide Rate Decline

Brazil is the world’s murder capital. No other country even comes close. That is ...

Indians Kick Tear Gas and attack police with arrows - Wilson Dias/ABr

In Brazil, Guns and Tear Gas Are No Match for Indians’ Arrows

  Brazilian Indians defied police repression in Brazil’s capital city on Tuesday, as officers ...

Local initiatives have emerged during the pandemic in the favelas | Gabriel Loiola

How a Favela in Rio Is Dealing with Mental Health Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Empty streets, full minds. The fear of the new coronavirus occupies the thoughts of ...

Brazil Is Not Winning Its War Against Violence on Black Women

Every year, Amnesty International releases a report on the state of human rights across ...

Brazilian Indians celebrating the Kuarup - Photo by ABr

Indians Take Brazil to International Court on Dispute over Land

An international human rights commission has accused Brazil of failing to obey its own ...