Tag Archives: nestle

Fishermen accuse Nestlé of polluting a river in France, killing tons of fish

The food giant Nestlé is being accused of polluting a local river in the region of Ardennes in the east of France, where a local fishing federation has filed a legal complaint after finding tons of dead fish in the river. It will take 10 years to get the fish levels back to normal, they argue.

The fishing federation of Ardennes said they found scores of dead fish in the Aisne river last weekend close to a Nestlé factory, accusing the company of breaking the local environmental code. In an initial inspection, the local prefecture said the deaths were due to lower oxygen levels in the water.

“We have lodged a complaint against Nestlé France for pollution and violation of article 432.2 of the environmental code,” said Michel Adam, president of the Ardennes Fishing Federation. He said the damage amounted to “several thousand euros” and that “everything died in an area 7 kilometers long and 30 meters wide.”

Members of the federation have already recovered three tons of dead fish but many more are left. They estimated that 14 species have been affected, including protected ones such as eels and lamprey, and the effects will spread up and down the food chain. For Adam, who has been involved with the federation for 40 years, pollution of this magnitude has never been registered in the area.

Voluntary fishermen, locals and firefighters have been working with the federation to collect the dead fish and evacuate the remaining ones. All water activities in the area have been suspended until further notice. Meanwhile, the police are analyzing the water for the presence of chemicals or bacteria.

Nestle has a 47,000 square-kilometer factory in the area of Challerange, where it produces powdered milk since 1947. The company released a statement confirming there was a spill of “biological sludge” bur claimed it didn’t contain chemical products, coming from its filtering station.

“As soon as we learned of the report on Sunday, we immediately stopped production and put an end to the spill,” factory director Tony do Rio said in a statement. “This spill was a one-off [and lasted] less than three hours on Sunday evening,” he said, adding that activity at the factory had been stopped for a few days.

The region of Ardennes is well known around the world for its green and eco-tourism, including impressive forests, rivers and lakes. Tourists visit it every year for outdoor leisure activities, such as the Ardennes forest, the Trans-Ardennes Greenway, and the lakes of Bairon and Les Vieilles-Forges.

Nestle is a Swiss multinational food and beverage company. According to Wikipedia, their products include baby food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Twenty-nine of their brands have sales of over $1 billion a year and have over 8,000 brands. Nestle is no stranger to controversy, being accused of anything from pollution to child labor in the past.

Nestle just outbid a city for water supplies

A small but fast growing community in Canada wanting to secure water sources was outbid by Nestlé, who wants a backup plan for its other well in the area.

Several towns in Maine have objected to the business practices of Poland Spring and its parent company Nestlé. Photo by Brett Weinstein

When companies compete with people

Nestlé is the world’s largest producer of bottled water, and it has a long history of abusing water resources. In their quest for profit, the company didn’t shy away from dubious or even illegal moves. Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe once went as far as to say that water isn’t a universal right:

“There are two different opinions on the matter [or water]. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.”

Nestlé, which can already take up to 3.6 million litres of water a day for bottling at its site in nearby Aberfoyle, Ontario, bought another well from Middlebrook Water Company last month. The company said that the site will be a “supplemental well for future business growth” and a backup for its plant in Aberfoyle. The Township of Centre Wellington also wanted the well to secure water for its future development, but the company’s offer was better.

Initially, the company had lots of conditions and wanted to do several tests before acquiring the well, but dropped them when they heard they had a competitor.

This isn’t an abuse in itself, but it highlights an important problem. Local communities shouldn’t have to fight companies for resources – and if they do, there should be some authority to ensure a responsible water usage and the potential for community development. In Ontario for example, this doesn’t seem to be happening, despite pressure from locals and environmental groups. The Council of Canadians, a non-profit social action organization, said that the well and bottling plant are located in a fragile ecosystem around Lake Eire and that allowing the company to extract even more water would add extra pressure on the environment.

“The Nestlé well near Elora sits on the traditional territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River, 11,000 of whom do not have access to clean running water,” said council chair Maude Barlow.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has received heavy criticism for accepting Nestlé’s application. She did say that the rules for granting water-extracting permits are outdated and should be revised but failed to provide any concrete plans or measures.

Nestle’s cocoa linked to child slavery

The world’s largest food and water producer will be sued for allegations that it used child slaves to harvest cocoa beads in the Ivory Coast in Africa.

Image via Wikipedia.

Nestle continues to show us again and again why they are one of the most hated companies in the world – after taking money from a drought-suffering California, Nestle will likely be held accountable for using child laborers for its chocolate products. The US Supreme Court has rejected the appeal from Nestle to dismiss the lawsuit.

Abby McGill, campaign director from the International Labour Rights Forum, which filed the initial lawsuit declared:

“We have fought for a long time to bring accountability to supply chains and to bring redress for the victims.”

According to data from McGill, the average cocoa farmer has six children and survives on a real income of 40 cents  per day – way below the global poverty line. It’s not the first time the Swiss company has been linked with this type of abuse. The 2010 documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate brought attention to purchases of cocoa beans from Ivorian plantations that use child slave labor. All in all, it’s estimated that 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in growing cocoa. Patti Rundall, policy director at campaign group at International Baby Food Action Network, has challenged Nestle’s practices for over 30 years:

“Every time you eat their chocolate you are benefitting from child slavery,” she said. “There is very little cocoa production that isn’t sourced in a bad way and it will take a long time to change that due to the nature of large corporations.“

This is a good reminder that we can all play our part. The Harkin–Engel Protocol, an international agreement aimed at ending the worst forms of child labor and forced labor is constantly being breached so we should pay attention where we buy our chocolate from.


Nestle Pays $524 to Extract 27,000,000 Gallons of Drinking Water Worth $80,000,000

To say that Nestle is an unethical company would be an understatement – the company’s history is riddled with practices such as child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing, mislabeling and recently, abusing water resources. Operating under a permit that expired back in 1988, the company drew 27 million gallons (100 million liters) of water from 12 springs in Strawberry Canyon, paying just over $500.

Image via Josh Cox.

Following an investigative paper published in the Desert Sun, Federal officials have started investigating Nestle’s water extraction and usage. The first red flag: their permit expired 26 years ago.

“It hasn’t been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn’t examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs,” Ian James wrote in the paper last month.

But the problem goes even deeper. As we’ve written several times, California is experiencing the worst drought in recent history, and both families and local companies have been forced to cut down on their water consumption. Under these conditions, Nestle shouldn’t be allowed to use that much water at all – let alone not pay for it!

They’ve been buying the water at about two cents per gallon, and selling that same water at $2 per bottle! Hey, and this is just one reservoir they’ve been tapping in. Another 51 million gallons of groundwater were drawn from the area by Nestle and at Deer Canyon, the company extracted 76 million gallons from the springs in that location, which is a sizable increase over 2013’s 56 million-gallon draw. In total, they’ve used roughly 705 million gallons of water in its operations in California, according to natural resource manager Larry Lawrence. As for the future, they have no intention of changing their ways.

“Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would,” Tim Brown, CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, said in a recent interview with Southern California Public Radio.

In his opinion, the over 700 million gallons they use every year (2.6 billion liters) are put to good use.

“The reality is, demand for bottled water is higher than it has ever been, in large measure because people are looking for healthier alternatives to juices, soft drinks, and, in some cases, beer and wine,” he wrote in an op-ed for The San Bernardino Sun.

Sure, we get it, it’s profitable, but if you do the math (as Claire Bernish from Anti Media has) you’ll realize that the potential profit from bottled water in California ranges in the tens of billions. There’s nothing wrong with a company making profit, but tapping into a scarce and valuable resource should not be for free – and doing so should come with a punishment.