A recent article in the New York Times chronicled the lives of several men forced into labor on fishing boats in the South China Sea, off the coast of Thailand. These boats catch fish that are later shipped to the US and other places to be used in pet food and livestock feed.
Some of the fish caught on these boats is sent to a cannery called the Songkla Canning Public Company, which is a subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products, Thailand’s largest seafood company. According to US customs documents, more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based cat and dog food in the past year for brands sold in the US, including Iams, Meow Mix and Fancy Feast.
Thai Union Frozen Products says it “will not tolerate any human trafficking or any human rights violation of any kind,” and that it regularly audits its canneries and boats in port to ensure against forced and child labor.
Nestle, which makes Fancy Feast, says it is working hard to ensure that forced labor is not used to produce its pet food.
“This is neither an easy nor a quick endeavor,” a spokeswoman said, because the fish it purchases comes from multiple ports and fishing vessels operating in international waters.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS: .@Nestle says it's working hard to ensure #forcedlabor isn't used to produce its #petfood.
Mars Inc. has replaced fishmeal in some of its pet food in an effort to use less fish. By 2020, the company plans to use only non-threatened fish caught legally or raised on farms and certified by third-party auditors as not being linked to forced labor. However, the company says the fishing industry has “real traceability issues” and that it struggles to ensure proper working conditions.
According to customs documents, in the past year, Mars received more than 90,000 cartons of dog and cat food from a cannery supplied by one of the boats mentioned in the NYT article.
The Thai government says it has increased its number of investigations and prosecutions and plans to continue doing so.