Nestle SA was sued over claims that its Fancy Feast cat food contains fish from a Thai supplier that uses slave labor. The complaint against the Swiss food giant follows one accusing Costco Wholesale Corp. of selling farmed shrimp from Thailand, where slave labor and human trafficking in the fishing industry are allegedly widespread.
The four consumers who filed the Nestle case in Los Angeles federal court seek to represent all California buyers of Fancy Feast who would not have bought the product had they known that the fish was allegedly harvested using forced labor.
The slavery lawsuits follow the publication last month of the U.S. State Department’s annual report examining human trafficking in 188 countries, in which the agency cited concerns about slave labor in Thailand’s fishing industry and faulted the Thai government’s record in fighting exploitation.
Nestle’s Thai supplier gets its fish from trawlers whose crews are often men and boys who have been trafficked from Myanmar and Cambodia, according to the complaint. They are sold as slaves by brokers and smugglers to fishing captains in Thai ports and frequently resold out at sea, the consumers said.