There are a lot of awful corporations in the world, but some just really take the cake. Being a twenty-one-year veteran of the supplement industry, I come in contact with one more so than any other…Nestle.
One of the first boycott Nestle posters from the 1970s
Through acquisitions, Nestle is now the largest seller of dietary supplements in the United States.
These are the supplement companies that they own:
Garden of Life
Better Health Company
They own more food, beverage, and body care companies than you can count. They are constantly buying more companies, so more may have been added at this point.
For decades Nestle has been doing horrible things, this article is just a small sampling as it would take multiple books to detail all of them.
We start our journey in 1974 with the release of a report entitled, The Baby Killer by War on Want, an anti-poverty organization. In poor countries, Nestle advertised baby formula as being better than breastfeeding. They paid off doctors, healthcare professionals, and hospitals to promote this and to give samples to women after they gave birth, and to deliver products to new mothers when they left the hospital. They even dressed up their sales representatives as nurses when giving out samples, in order to make people believe they were health care professionals.
The mothers soon stopped producing breastmilk and became reliant on the formula. In these poorer areas, the women could no longer afford the infant formula, once the samples ran out, and began to dilute the formula causing malnutrition. In addition, these areas often lacked access to clean water, so the formula was often mixed with unsanitary water. Between malnutrition and contaminated water, untold numbers of babies died.
Before anyone can say, well that was a long time ago, thirty years later, Nestle is still at it, taking advantage of the poor, putting profits above mothers and babies. In Bangladesh, Nestle is committing the exact same crimes they did in the ’70s. Nothing has changed except the location.
Recently Nestle was found to have had high levels of lead and arsenic in their baby food products (they own Gerber), and even though they knew this, they just left them on the shelf, no recall, nothing. Recalling them would have cut into the quarterly profits, and we can’t have that now, can we?
The next stop on our journey is water issues. To list all of the awful things Nestle has done with water would take an entire book, so this is definitely not a complete list, just a small sampling of the horrors that one of the world’s worst companies has done.
In 2000, Nestle persuaded the World Water Forum to change its designation of water to a human need instead of a human right. Is anything more of a human right than water?
Below is a video of the CEO of Nestle talking about how water is not a human right and should be privatized. Nestle has tried very hard to get this video scrubbed from the internet, so please spread it around.
In the small Pakistani village of Bhati Dilwan, the children are getting sick because of Nestle. Nestle dug a deep well, which caused the aquifer to drop near the village and is now depriving the local people of clean drinking water. Children are being forced to drink filthy water because if the aquifer was fixed, it would deprive Nestle of profits.
In India, Nestle’s Pure Life brand was found to contain a cocktail of pesticides, including lindane, malathion, DDT, and chlorpyrifos.
In Manderegi, Nigeria, Nestle built a water factory and promised to provide potable water for no less than a thousand local residents. As you can guess, they have not actually kept this promise.
“Two years after the water plant started full-scale operations, residents of Manderegi and its environs continue to struggle with chronic water shortages as the stream that serves as an alternative source of water supply is contaminated with wastewater directly pumped from the Nestle’s water factory. Also, the channels for the release of the wastewater from the factory have created a gully erosion that has caused serious ecological danger destroying farmlands and access roads in the community.”
In Canada, Nestle is basically stealing water from the First Nations People. While many of these people lack access to clean drinking water, Nestle pumps millions of gallons of water with expired permits and pays them nothing for it, despite it being a drought-stricken area.
In Michigan, where the people of Flint are still having water issues, Nestle extracts 400 gallons of water every minute for only $200 dollars per year. Many of Flint’s residents pay more than that for contaminated water each month.
If you want to take a deep dive into the corruption and horrible things that Nestle has done with water in the United States, this report is for you.
Palm oil is the next on the Nestle list of horrors. While palm oil production is already pretty horrific, Nestle takes it to a whole new level.
A two-year undercover investigation filmed the top managers of " Kellogg's " and " Nestle " surreptitiously bragging about bribing the Minister of New Guinea to forcibly remove children from their parents, brutalizing workers to harvest palm oil and destroying the environment.”
Nothing says we care like forcibly removing children from their parents to be brutalized and used as forced labor.
Next up is tomatoes because making any part of their supply chain not horrible is apparently too much. An investigation found that Nestle was buying tomatoes from Chinese companies in Xinjiang, China, where the concentration camps are located, and forced labor is incredibly common. Earlier this year, tomato products from that region were banned in the United States because of these issues.
Last and probably the worst, although it is really kind of hard to rank these awful things, is cocoa. Nearly two decades ago, Nestle, as well as a few other companies, pledged to eliminate slavery from their cocoa supply chains. They have most certainly not done that.
On the Ivory Coast in Africa, children aged 12-15 are trafficked from other countries and used as slave labor on the plantations that supply Nestle with cocoa. Injuries to children from the machetes used to harvest the cocoa beans are common. We chose not to put pictures or links to these as they are very gruesome. In addition, these children are being made to spray large amounts of dangerous pesticides on the chocolate, exposing them to countless health risks.
According to Nestle:
“The use of child labor in our cocoa supply chain goes against everything we stand for,” says Nestle’s Executive Vice-President for Operations Jose Lopez. “No company sourcing cocoa from the Ivory Coast can guarantee that it doesn’t happen, but we can say that tackling child labor is a top priority for our company.”
It’s nice to hear that they care, but they have not actually done anything to change it. They have known about the problems for decades, yet continue to buy cocoa from plantations they know are using child slaves. With all of their billions, they could solve the problem if they wanted to; they just care more about profits than people. Perhaps if they cannot give up a bit of profit, they could raise the prices of their products. I’m sure most people would be willing to pay a little more to know their chocolate was not made by child slaves.
In a black mark on the US court system, Nestle argued before the Supreme Court this year that they should be not liable for slavery being used in the growing of their cocoa because it happened outside of the United States. The Supreme Court agreed and ruled in Nestle’s favor. Not only is this a terrible ruling for victims of these horrors, but it also signals to other companies that as long as it does not happen within the United States borders, anything goes. What a terrible precedent to set and will encourage more suffering in the pursuit of profit.
This is by no means a complete list of the horrors committed by Nestle. It’s doubtful that any of us will ever know the full extent of the things they have done. They have done terrible things in other industries, such as seafood (slavery, again, seems to be a trend) and much more. There were simply too many examples of disgusting behavior, I could not fit it all in one article.
Researching and writing this article was not easy. Reading all of this is heartbreaking, especially because it does not have to be this way. Nestle could make lives better for all of the people involved with making their products and still make billions in profit. It is not just greed; it’s a form of psychopathy when executives are bragging about brutalizing people or subjecting them to slavery.
There are a number of ways you can help to put a stop to this awful company.
The first is to boycott their products. Just stop buying them, no excuses. There is no product that they make that you cannot get a version of from another company. This is the most effective thing you can do. By 1984, just seven years after the start of the first Nestle boycott in 1977, countless infant lives had been saved. It does make a difference.
The second is to spread the word to your friends and family to do the same. Share this article, or others like it, on social media or anywhere else you can.
The third is to support farmers and activists who are fighting them. For example:
Didier Thouvenin is a farmer in Vittel, France -- home to one of Nestlé's massive water-guzzling projects. Together with other whistleblowers, he exposed that Nestlé was illegally dumping huge amounts of plastic and chemical waste, forcing it to admit to creating NINE massive dumping sites. But instead of cleaning up the mess and apologizing to local residents, Nestlé filed a legal complaint against Didier for trespassing! We know it won’t stop there -- there were 11 other activists with Didier that day, and Nestlé is famous for doing everything it can to silence opposition to protect its profits. Didier just told us he URGENTLY needs to secure a lawyer to fight back. If enough of us chip in, we can create a legal defense fund for Didier and other brave activists standing up to Nestlé. Here is the link to donate to their awesome cause.
The fourth is to encourage your local stores to stop carrying their products. While big chains will not stop carrying their products unless people stop buying them, local stores may be more open to hearing the message and hopefully will want to stop carrying products with huge ethical issues. Don’t be afraid to say something.
Rooted Nutrition always has been and always will be a Nestle-free zone. If you care at all about human rights and the environment, we hope you will join us in boycotting one of the worst corporations on the planet.