Loser of the last quarter (Q3-2015): Costco

On behalf of a resident of California, USA, three US law firms have filed a lawsuit against American grocery retailer Costco and its fish supplier CP Foods for allegedly misleading consumers about the fact that they are inadvertently supporting slavery. The two companies – along with other supermarket firms including Carrefour, Walmart and Tesco – are accused of selling shrimp sourced from farms in Thailand in the knowledge that such farms are routinely involved in human trafficking and forced labour.

An investigation conducted by The Guardian newspaper revealed that countless men from Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia are sold as slaves to the Thai fishing sector. The men are kept virtually imprisoned on boats where they are forced to catch fish which are then ground up into fish meal and fed to farmed shrimps. According to the report, the men endure “horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years and some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.” The lawyers are demanding a ban on the sale of shrimp in Costco’s stores unless it is clearly marked as a ‘Product of Slavery’.