A scathing lawsuit out of California alleges Nestlé puts “bogus” seals on its chocolate that tout the products are “sustainably sourced” despite the fact that the company’s supply chain is admittedly “tainted with child labor and/or child slave labor."
The proposed class action claims that despite knowing full well that its chocolate is mainly sourced from cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, which use “the worst forms of child labor,” Nestlé “has the audacity” to put “patently false ‘seals’ on its products” that indicate the chocolate is “sustainably sourced,” “certified,” and “helps” farmers.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the suit reads, pointing out that products like Nesquik and Toll House Chocolate Chips are labeled in a prominent location with references to third-party sustainability certifier UTZ.
And this, according to the complaint, says nothing to Nestlé’s apparent failings when it comes to environmental sustainability:
“Nestlé’s supply chain has virtually no environmental standards in place. To the contrary, the "[c]hocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in [the] Ivory Coast.” This massive deforestation was documented by The Guardian, whose investigative reporters ‘travelled across Ivory Coast and documented rainforests cleared for cocoa plantation; villages and farmers occupying supposedly protected national parks; enforcement officials taking kickbacks for turning a blind eye to infractions and trading middlemen who supply the big brands indifferent to the provenance of beans.’”
Environmentally, Nestlé has failed to ensure that it does not purchase cocoa produced on protected lands, the case continues, claiming that at present upward “of 80 percent of cocoa production and sales are done without properly tracing the source of the cocoa.” Much of Nestlé’s cocoa the company knowingly procures from protected nature reserves, according to the suit, which reportedly leads to mass deforestation and subsequent excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides as demand grows for cocoa.
The net result of Nestlé’s conduct, the case argues, is that consumers have been deceived into believing their products are sourced through environmentally and socially responsible means when in fact the opposite is true. Had consumers known the truth, the lawsuit says, they never would have purchased Nestlé products.
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