Eleven U.S. business chains sell shrimp processed using child slave labor… including Whole Foods
Tuesday, January 05, 2016 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
As Americans chow down at the buffet, shoveling food into their faces, somewhere on the other side of the world, the negative effect is felt.
In Southeast Asia, children between 13 and 15 years old, are trafficked and shipped into Thailand from countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia. Upon arrival, these migrant children are turned into slaves, as they are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day under extreme conditions. They are not referred to by their names; they are recognized as numbers, working around the clock for Thailand’s multi-billion dollar shrimp export industry.
Forced to peel and de-vein shrimp as fast as they can, these child slaves work for little to no pay. The processed shrimp is then packaged and exported to countries like the U.S., where Americans wait to chow down at their finest restaurants.
A bombshell investigation into Thailand’s billion dollar shrimp industry finds that it’s all made possible through child slave labor. The Associated Press investigation began in Samut Sakhon, a province right outside Bangkok, where 10,000 children were shipped in to begin their life of slave labor in large, disgusting warehouses. Investigators witnessed young children inside, boarded up in dorm rooms, waiting for their intensive 16-hour shifts to start, where they would be forced to peel and de-vein shrimp as fast as they could. Entire families, with no hope of escape, can be seen working alongside one another, in front of tables piled high with tubs of raw shrimp.
When they don’t peel fast enough, they are called “cows” and “buffalos.” They are only allowed to leave the warehouse to get food, but only one member of the family is allowed to leave at a time, to prevent them all from escaping.
Using customs and shipping records, investigators followed the processed shrimp all the way to the U.S. In fact, 11 U.S. business chains sells shrimp processed using child slave labor. One of the most prominent buyers is Darden Restaurants, which supplies shrimp to American restaurant favorites Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze.
The investigation painstakingly followed the shrimp to some of America’s top distributors: Walmart, HEB Supermarkets, Whole Foods, Kroger and Costco. The shrimp produced through slave labor is also sold at the fancy restaurant Red Lobster, and can be found in Chicken of Sea tuna, sold at Dollar General, and in Fancy Feast cat food, sold at Petco.
These famous American businesses will continue to feed the appetite of Americans, filling their fancy dinner plates with shrimp that was processed through child slave labor. Privileged Americans do have a moral responsibility to look at how they live, and realize that it creates the conditions for this slavery to continue on the other side of the world.
It’s time to boycott these eleven US businesses until they stop sourcing food processed by child slave labor. It’s time to stop buying seafood altogether from these eleven businesses. It’s time to communicate this important news to the CEOs and corporate executives of these businesses, so that they can change their sourcing and purchasing habits at the source.
It’s time to examine every aspect of our own lives: How we eat in gluttony; how we depend on food to always be available; and how we expect to have whatever we want. We have to examine how our privileged, take-everything-for-granted lifestyle can impact others who might not be as lucky as we are.