Unethically-sauced tomatoes

November 18th, 2014

This article is more than 9 years old.

Italian mob using illegal immigrants to harvest tomatoes found in supermarket tins

The next time you buy the ingredients for your spaghetti bolognese, you might want to think twice about which tinned tomatoes you are putting in your cart.

According to a report released by DanWatch, Italian mafia are using illegal immigrants to harvest the tomatoes that go into tins sold in Danish supermarkets.

These brands include Irma Hverdag, Coop x-tra, La Campagna, Monte Rey, First Price, Grøn Balance and Smagens Køkken.

The report states that up towards 400,000 illegal immigrants are working on tomato plantations without a contract. They get paid a measly three euros per hour compared to the average wage of eight euros for legally-employed workers.

Taking advantage of the predicament of these workers, the mafia charges a percentage of their salaries in return for food, accommodation, transport and protection from authorities.

Danish supermarkets are not required by law to account for their entire supply chains: only one step backwards or forwards. This is why many brands contain unethically-sourced tomatoes.

The four companies responsible for the brands refuse to accept responsibility. Instead they place the blame with the suppliers.

READ MORE: Immigrants are good for the economy, report says

Only one brand entirely ethical
Coop is aware of the problem, but would prefer to continue purchasing tomatoes from these sources in order to improve the working conditions of the workers in the future.

“In our opinion, pulling out is not a viable option,” remarked Coop’s CSR boss, Ulla Riber, in response to DanWatch’s report.

“Our investments in goods and products are meant to improve the long-term conditions in the supply chain.”

Out of thirteen brands sampled by DanWatch at supermarkets operated by Dansk Supermarked, CooP and Lidl, only one, BioItalia, took complete responsibility for working conditions all the way through its supply chain.


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