Nestlé's Horrific Corporate Record
Nestlé S.A. or Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, is not only Switzerland's largest industrial company, but it is also the world's largest food and beverage company. With tens of billions of sales annually, it is one of the world's ten largest companies. It is the world leader in bottled water and coffee and is also one of the world's largest baby-food makers.
Nestlé USA, a subsidiary of Nestlé S.A, manufactures a wide variety of food products from chocolate to frozen dinners to pet food. The company also produces personal and health care products. Nestlé USA employs 21,000 people and reported sales of $8 billion in 2004.
Nestlé Waters, another subsidiary of Nestlé S.A., with its 72 bottled water brands worldwide, is the largest bottled water company in the world and represents 9% of Nestlés total sales. Nestlé is the largest bottled water company in the United States, where their brands have captured more than a 40% market share.
Most importantly, the huge multinational corporation is a noted corporate villain. Given the corporations record, it is not surprising that it was selected as the Worlds Most Unethical Company by Ethical Consumer Magazine and voted one of The Ten Worst Corporations of 1989 by Multinational Monitor. A detailed listing of all the corporations crimes would take up more time and space than is available, but below are some of the highlights in the corporations career of crime.
Nestlé is perhaps most notorious for its overly aggressive marketing of baby formula throughout the developing world. An estimated 1.5 million infants die each year because they are not breastfed. Mixing the formula with unsafe water poses a significant health risk to the infants, with these bottle-fed children up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea than a breastfed child. By the time a child is sick, the mother may well have stopped producing her own milk for the child. Since 1977 (with a break from 1984-1988), Nestlé has been the target of a boycott, now reaching to 20 countries, because of its aggressive and immoral marketing of artificial baby milk. Nestlés tactics are in violation of the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and contribute to the death and suffering of infants around the world. These marketing tactics helped get the corporation voted one of The Ten Worst Corporations of 1989.
Nestlé has an appalling record when it comes to labor and human rights violations. The company purchases a portion of its cocoa from the Ivory Coast, where it has been found that children have been forced or tricked into leaving their homes to work as indentured servants on cocoa plantations. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 children work on these plantations, some as young as 11 years old. The International Labor Rights Fund has sued Nestlé, Archer Daniels Midland, and Cargill in Federal District Court in Los Angeles for involvement in the trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans that the companies import from Africa. They filed suit on behalf of a class of Malian children who were trafficked from Mali into the Ivory Coast and forced to work twelve to fourteen hours a day with no pay, little food and sleep, and frequent beatings. Source: International Labor Rights Fund and www.responsibleshopper.org
Nestlé is among those companies who have chosen to remain financially involved in Myanmar (Burma) despite the potential of any business to directly or indirectly strengthen the illegal military junta there. Source: Burma Forum Los Angeles
Nestlé has been involved in extensive union-busting activity in Colombia since it first arrived there 50 years ago. In the words of a spokesperson for SINALTRAINAL, the Colombian Foodworkers Union, Nestlé converts the factories into camps for the public security forces in order to create terror in the community, destroy the unity of the workers, and misinform the members of the union, with the goal of pitting them against the leaders and destroying the movement. This is the policy of Nestlé all over the world. Since the dirty war erupted in Colombia in the early 1980s, trade unionists have been on the front line of targeted, but unofficial, repression. SINALTRAINAL was formed as an industrial union in 1982. According to SINALTRAINAL seven of its members working at Nestlé have been assassinated since then. The principal perpetrators of such disappearances are the paramilitary death squads. Although there is a certain separation between the agents of repression and official entities, the links are an open secret. Source: http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/business/2002/09Nestlé.htm
In early 2005, Nestlé Purina sold thousands of tons of poisoned animal food in Venezuela. The local brands included Dog Chow, Cat Chow, Puppy Chow, Fiel, Friskies, Gatsy, K-Nina, Nutriperro, Perrarina and Pajarina. Over 500 dogs, cats, birds and cattle died. It was reported that it was caused by corn that was stored incorrectly, which lead to a proliferation of a fungus with a high quantity of aflatoxin causing hepatic problems in the animals that ate the food. In March 2005, the National Assembly of Venezuela stated that the company Nestlé Purina was responsible for the quality standards and compensation must be paid to the owners of the affected animals.
In the town of São Lourenço, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Nestlé's over-pumping in an historic mineral water park is blamed for ruining the healing springs on which tourism in the small town is based. In addition, contrary to federal law, Nestlé de-mineralized the water to process its Pure Life brand of bottled water. Nestlé built its Pure Life bottling plant and its surrounding wall in an area of high risk to the aquifer, also contrary to federal law.
Nestlés Ice Mountain bottling facility in Michigan had plans to extract 400 gallons of water per minute from Sanctuary Spring in the headwaters of the Little Muskegon River in Mecosta County. In a suit filed by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Michigan Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Root concluded Nestlés water operation would unlawfully diminish the lakes, streams, and wetlands at issue and ordered Nestlé to stop pumping. Nestlé, with the help of Michigans Department of Environmental Quality, arrogantly circumvented the Judges order and continued its pumping.
Is this a corporation we want controlling Maines groundwater, one of our most precious natural resources? It is time for us to wake up and pay attention before it is too late.
Much of the above information has come from:
Nestlés Many Brands
Nestlés brands are many, indeed. Below is a partial listing of some of the better known brands found in the U.S. Much more extensive listings can easily be found on the web.
Chase & Sanborn
Kerns Juice Nectar
Chocolate & Confectionery
Bit O Honey
Do Frozen Juice Bars
Crosse & Blackwell
Personal Care Products
Alcon Eye Care
LOreal (almost 50% owner)
Come n Get It
The Whole Grain