Mondelēz International responds to migrant child labour allegations within US supply businesses

Mondelēz International has responded to claims of illegal child labour entering its supply chain in the US through a third party business, following a national media investigation on social compliance auditing within manufacturing sites in America, writes Neill Barston.

The story, which appeared in the New York Times, examined a wide range of major corporations, including McDonald’s, Gerber baby snacks and an external supplier to Mondelez, Hearthside Food Solutions, which has facilities in Geneva, Illinois, that are now reportedly under federal investigation, facing allegations of employing under-age migrant workers – which the global snacking group responded it has zero tolerance policy on.

According to the media group’s report, its core findings highlighted a common cross-industry culture within supply chains of a lack of sufficient auditing of manufacturing workplaces leading to a pattern of hidden child labour that could potentially have been undetected for a period of years.

In response to the coverage, Mondelez issued a statement which expressed its concern, and stressed its working policies prohibit under-age working. It read: “We are deeply concerned to hear media reports that there may have been illegal child labour involved at a supplier Hearthside Food Solutions (HFS) Geneva site.

“We explicitly prohibit illegal child labour in the operations of our suppliers (as well as our own operations), and we require all suppliers to meet contractual and legal requirements as well as our Supplier & Partner Code of Conduct. This Code sets out our clear expectations on human rights, which prohibits child labor and forced labor across our value chain.

“When The New York Times made allegations regarding HFS’ production for other food brands in February, we engaged directly with HFS to demand information and action from them to ensure compliance with our supplier expectations, as well as ensure their adherence with their contractual obligations, including audit requirements, and other measures to protect children.

“Since then, we’ve taken additional steps to further reinforce our clear expectations across our value chain including sending a letter to U.S. suppliers, including HFS, spelling out, in no uncertain terms, what we expect of them overall and specific to their human rights and labour practices.

“We have also requested that HFS provide us with information and updates on the steps taken to strengthen their own internal processes and procedures, and we encouraged The New York Times to hear from them directly as a part of their reporting.”

A spokesperson for Hearthside Food Solutions added a further response on the issue. The company said: “As we stated clearly to The New York Times, Hearthside does not, and has never, knowingly employed underage labor in our facilities, and we have used all tools legally available to us, as mandated and administered by the federal government, to adhere to government regulations across our company’s operations.”




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