Big global food firms ‘failing’ the ethical test

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THE world’s largest food companies are failing to meet ethical standards, a report has warned.

Leading global brands such as Nestle, Mars and Coca-Cola are failing to ensure the well-being of the workers who produce their products and are continuing to profit from a broken system they should be helping to fix, the study by Oxfam claims.

The charity has compiled a Behind the Brands scorecard, which rates the “big ten” food companies in seven categories – the transparency of their supply chains and operations; how they ensure the rights of workers; how they protect women’s rights; the management of water and land use; their policies to reduce the impacts of climate change, and how they ensure the rights of the farmers who grow their ingredients.

The company with the lowest score – just 13 out of 70 – was food giant Associated British Foods, which owns well-known brands including Kingsmill, Silverspoon and Ovaltine. It scored just one out of ten in its treatment of land, women and climate change, while the highest score it managed to achieve was three, in relation to workers and transparency.

In joint second lowest place were Kellogg’s and General Mills, which owns Old El Paso, Haagen-Dazs and Nature Valley, with both scoring 16 out of 70.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said: “As part of our commitment to transparent, more sustainable, responsible business practices, we welcome a continuous dialogue with Oxfam that enables us to identify and address global challenges collaboratively.”