Hagens Berman has filed two separate class-action lawsuits against Nestlé and Mars for their practices of importing fish-based pet food from suppliers who use slave labor. Specifically, Nestlé and Mars import pet food from a company called Thai Union Frozen Products (“Thai Union”). According to U.S. customs documents, Thai Union has shipped more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food for some of the top brands sold in the United States.
According to the filed complaints, Thai Union relies on forced or slave labor to catch the fish used in fish-based Fancy Feast and Iams-brand cat foods. These men and boys are victims of many human rights violations: they are trafficked from countries neighboring Thailand, sold to fishing boats by brokers and smugglers, and forced to work under physical violence, emotional abuse, and verbal threats. The firm's filed complaints built on reports by The New York Times that initially shed light on these inhumane working conditions.
In violation of California law, Nestlé and Mars do not disclose that their supplier Thai Union employs these forced labor practices and instead continue to profit from the slave labor that supplies the fish.
Steve Berman issued the following statement in response to Nestle's supply chain report: “While we recognize Nestle’s report as a step in the right direction, it does not change the fact that the company has failed to disclose the use of forced labor in its seafood supply chains to consumers. Hagens Berman’s litigation stemming from these grave human rights violations will continue, as we believe consumers have the right to know about Nestle’s use of slave labor at the point of sale.”
For more information about this issue, you can visit The New York Times’ Outlaw Ocean series for key articles, which have been cited in the firm’s complaints on file.