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Forced labor Taints Shrimp From Thailand

March 3, 2016
Plain English Version
MAHACHAI, THAILAND: A young Burmese migrant worker stands in line at a shrimp factory to weigh the cleaned shrimp. Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

MAHACHAI, THAILAND: A young Burmese migrant worker stands in line at a shrimp factory to weigh the cleaned shrimp. Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

According to a news report the shrimp industry in Thailand is rife with torture, wage-theft and beatings.

An advocate said, “If you buy prawns or shrimp from Thailand, you will be buying the produce of slave labor.” Many countries buy from Thailand. This includes the United States, which imports about half of the shrimp Thailand produces.

Many buyers, such as Walmart and Costco, said they were condemning the Thailand practices. Two years later there have been few changes.

The report said its findings had forced changes. It freed thousands of indentured fishermen. It resulted in dozens of arrests. There were millions of dollars of seizures.

The report went on to say:

U.S. customs records show the shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S. food stores. They include Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco. Restaurants include Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

It also went into the supply chains of some of America’s best-known seafood brands and pet foods. They include Chicken of the Sea and Fancy Feast. Brands sold in grocery stores from Safeway to Albertsons. Reporters went to supermarkets in all 50 states. They found shrimp products from supply chains tainted with forced labor.

Ready-to-cook shrimp goes out. It is popular with consumers. The demand is great. The peeling work is often done in unregistered peeling sheds. The workers are usually overworked, underpaid and often unable to leave.

Migrants from Myanmar (also known as Burma) are the workers. U.S. law has a loophole that allows the shrimp to come in. Supply chains are hard to look into. There is little dispute about the practices that result in shrimp getting  the market.

Consumers should tell restaurants and food stores not to buy shrimp from Thailand.

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