Costco is being accused and sued for selling shrimp that was harvested in Thailand, under allegations that slave labor was involved. The California woman who filed the lawsuit stated that Costco misled U.S. consumers about where the shrimp was coming from, and how. In her filing of the lawsuit, she made reference to various state laws that prohibit companies, including Costco, from giving false claims pertaining to illegal actions done with their knowledge. This includes human rights violations such as slave labor, which she claimed that Costco is affiliated with.
According to the complaint filed Wednesday morning, ‘Washington-based Costco’s purchases of Thailand’s farmed prawns, which are fed a diet of cheap fish caught at sea with unpaid, forced labor, helps prop up an industry whose practices are ignored by local authorities.’ Something like this should not be able to continue to go on. Authorities should take this matter in all seriousness, and take action against it. Human suffering and enslavement can not be ignored, just due to the fact that it gains more revenue and less expenses. To make matters even worse, the spokesman for Costco, Bob Nelson, did not return a call that was seeking comment on the lawsuit. Authorities should initiate a major investigation, as this should not be able to continue.
Thailand, the exporter of shrimp that Costco utilizes, has a seafood industry that employs around 650,000 people, many who are forced into it against their will, as part of slave labor. There are appalling acts that occur along the sea routes that the Thai workers travel through. Torture, restraining of workers, and killing those who attempt to escape, are some of the horrors that happen on these vessels. Though it is not Costco that directly imports these tainted food items. According to the report, CP Food Products Inc. is the corporation in which Costco obtains their shrimp products from, and is the defendant in this lawsuit.
According to the complaint filed by the lawyer who is assigned to the plaintiff, ‘Costco publicly represents that it does not tolerate human trafficking and slavery in its supply chain, yet it continues to purchase the tainted farmed prawns from defendant CP Foods.’ This shows how Costco may not be the company that is fully in fault, in this case. They may not have been aware of how the shrimp was harvested, so the blame should not be on them.
The lawyers stated that the issue may have arisen by a result of the downward spiraling fishing industry in Thailand, as profits are scarce, and they may not be able to pay workers with the profits that they receive. The lawsuit seeks to relieve all companies of obtaining the tainted products harvested by slave labor, and to bring justice to the consumers, by giving them compensation. However, is compensation necessary? The shrimp are not harmful, nor have they impeded on anyone’s health. Along with this, the lawsuit also seeks to receive disclosure from Costco, of the whereabouts of their shrimp purchases. Though disclosure may be required for an investigation, compensation may not be, as there may not be anything, legally, to compensate for.