Nestle has announced it will conduct an investigation into the presence of child labour in its business, following accusations children are employed on cocoa farms that supply to its factories.
In a first for food companies, Nestle will partner with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a non-profit organisation that works with large companies to improve working conditions at various levels of the supply chain.
Independent FLA experts will head to Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa to assess Nestlé’s cocoa supply chain in January next year.
If evidence of child labour is found, the FLA will conduct further investigation to determine the root cause and advise Nestle on how to make “sustainable and lasting” changes.
A statement released by Nestlé said the role of the FLA’s will be to help ensure Nestlé’s efforts to eliminate child labour are “more effective and transparent”.
It says the results of the assessment will guide future Nestle operations and Nestlé’s Executive Vice President for Operations José Lopez said it will be putting any measures in place to ensure no child labour is used.
“Child labour has no place in our supply chain,” he said.
“We cannot solve the problem on our own, but by working with a partner like the FLA we can make sure our efforts to address it are targeted where they are needed most.”
The findings will be made public in Spring 2012.
The second phase of the investigation will involve Nestlé working with the FLA other stakeholders, including the Côte d’Ivoire government, to address any problems that are identified.
The FLA will assess the impact of these efforts and report publicly on the progress made regularly.