Whiskas Clearly Unable to Deny Cat Food Linked to Slavery

Pet Food Giant Admits Slavery Allegations are ‘Very Worrying’

Press release - March 24, 2016
The owner of international pet food giant Whiskas have admitted that questions over their links to modern-day slavery are ‘very worrying’.

This month, Greenpeace New Zealand launched an international campaign against the well-known cat food brand, saying that cat owners who buy Whiskas for their pet may unwittingly be funding human rights abuses, as  fish used to feed moggies may have been caught by slaves and sold to Mars, Whiskas’ parent company.

Although most famous for peddling chocolate bars, Mars is also the largest pet food company on the planet. The American company buys tuna and other seafood that goes into its cat food pouches and cans from Thai Union, one of the world’s biggest seafood exporters.

Last year, Thai Union was connected to human rights abuses through direct links to fishing vessels where workers were exploited, abused and forced to work without getting off the ship for years at a time. Thai Union also sources from fishing methods that result in high catches of untargeted species, such as sharks, turtles and rays.

Thousands of concerned people have already written to Mars expressing concern that the company may be feeding cats tuna caught using destructive fishing methods, forced labour or an abused workforce. And over 250,000 people have watched an online video featuring some of the most famous cats on the internet asking for cat food to be free of links to modern-day slavery.

In correspondence to Greenpeace New Zealand addressing the slavery scandal, Mars admitted that the American company ‘works with several suppliers in Thailand and Thai Union is one of them. Therefore the recent allegations….are very worrying and raise our concerns.’ Mars also confessed that ‘we do not have all the answers needed at this point in time’.

Whiskas also recently tweeted from their @whiskas_uk account to say: ‘We’re concerned about the potential forced labour practices in areas of the supply chain where we lack direct visibility’.

In an exposé last year, products from another Mars-owned cat food brand, Iams, were shown to be made in a Thai Union cannery which was processing fish from boats using trafficked and forced labour.

Greenpeace New Zealand have contacted Mars in New Zealand several times in the last few months, asking the company to provide evidence that they are not selling Whiskas cat food tainted by human rights abuses and destructive fishing.

Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Kate Simcock said: “Whiskas are clearly unable to deny that their cat food contains fish that has been caught by slaves.

“The company have expressed concern and admitted there are huge areas of their supply chains over which they have no visibility. And instead of acting now to sort this out, they’re going to wait a whole year while they write a report about where their seafood comes from. That’s simply not good enough. Cat lovers will surely be shocked by this. No-one wants to buy cat food, or anything else for that matter, that reeks of human rights abuses.

“Whiskas have a very murky supply chain that almost certainly has seafood linked to modern-day slavery in it. And they’ve got to clean it up. The company should be developing and implementing a comprehensive, time-bound plan that ensures they no longer buy seafood that has been tainted with both human rights and environmental abuses.”

Just over three months ago, Nestle, which owns Purina and Fancy Feast, admitted that its pet food products have been linked to human rights abuses and promised to clean up its supply chain. Nestle claims that all companies sourcing seafood from Thailand will face the same issues.