US lawsuit accuses Costco, Thai supplier of selling prawns produced by slaves
By Leslie Gevirtz and Alisa Tang
NEW YORK/BANGKOK, Aug 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A U.S. lawsuit accusing retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. of knowingly selling frozen prawns linked to a company that uses slave labor was described on Friday as "entirely without merit" by Thai seafood supply company CP Food Products.
A lawsuit filed in the federal court in San Francisco in California on Wednesday sought a court order to stop Costco from selling prawns without a label stating that slave labor was involved in the farm raised prawns.
The claim, citing federal and state rules on labelling and slavery, alleged Costco was aware the prawns bought from its Southeast Asian producers came from a supply chain dependent on ships involved in human trafficking and labor abuses.
The exporter, CP Food Products Inc, and its parent company, Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Foods PCL, were also named in the lawsuit that was filed on behalf of California resident Monica Sud, a member of Costco which is run as a warehouse club.
CP Foods on Friday said it had received a copy of a complaint filed in California concerning its shrimp business.
"CPF believes that it has complied with all applicable laws and regulations, and that the complaint is entirely without merit," the company said in a statement.
Sud's lawyers are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, which means if granted it could affect millions of customers in California.
Costco, the third largest U.S. retailer, said these allegations over issues in the Thai seafood industry had been well publicized for more than a year. Continuación...