Costco not liable in lawsuit over slave labor shrimp

Published on
February 17, 2017

A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit against Costco alleging it did not disclose that shrimp it sold had been farmed using forced labor.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White recently dismissed a lawsuit brought on behalf of California consumers of Costco shrimp products. The consumers said that the club store chain sold them farmed shrimp from Thailand that was fed fish caught with unpaid, forced labor, according to a Bloomberg article. White said the plaintiffs failed to specifically trace the prawns they purchased to the companies that were Costco’s suppliers.

A 2015 investigation by the Associated Press made allegations that numerous major United States retail chains, including Walmart and Costco, were linked to shrimp processed under slave labor conditions.

After news of the forced labor conditions broke, Red Lobster, Whole Foods Market and other chains denied they sold the shrimp, supplied by Thai Union Group. While Walmart did not deny that it received shrimp from the factories in question, executives told SeafoodSource they were “horrified” by the reported abusive practices.

The case was brought under a 2010 state law that sought to expose slavery in the supply chains of U.S. companies, according to Bloomberg.

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