Modern Slavery in the Global Food Supply Chain
With western governments introducing legislation to stamp out slavery and child labor, businesses in the food industry must now ensure their supply chains are compliant with global expectations of corporate social responsibility.
With UNICEF estimating 150 million children are involved in child labor, and countless more adults forced into practices commensurate with slavery, many governments are looking at ways to stop companies, who benefit from forced labor, operating within their borders.
High demand for cheap products means that companies take advantage of the economic benefits that can be accrued from a global supply chain. The problem is, businesses at the end of a long supply chain may have no interaction with operators in the early stages of the supply chain. Authorities in the UK and USA are now seeking to place responsibility for the working conditions of those engaged along the supply chain, at the door of the companies that ultimately benefit from their labors. Following a recent report by World Vision Canada into global child labor, there are now calls for similar legislation in Canada, and it is expected that other countries will begin to contemplate comparable laws.
Following US President Obama’s signing of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which included a provision banning the importation of goods produced by child and forced labor, the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs is required to compile an annual list of goods produced by forced labor. Since the law was enacted in February 2016, US Customs and Border Protection has impounded three imported products, including a common food sweetener. The importer has been given three months to prove that it is not manufactured by convict labor.
With western consumers demanding access to dishes and products from around the world, the food industry needs to be particularly vigilant about its supply chains. Companies at the end of a supply chain need a mechanism whereby they can be assured of the ethical and labor conduct of those further up the supply chain.
Transparency-One, in partnership with SGS, gives companies at the end of a supply line, access to data relating to businesses along their complete supply chain. An open business-to-business network, it allows operators to collect product, ingredient and facility information declared online by suppliers, and their own suppliers. It also means, those at the end of a food supply line can be assured that all businesses along the chain are compliant with food safety legislation and with the minimum labor standards demanded by the destination country or by those at the end of a food supply chain.
Transparency-One works because it is the end user who instigates the supply chain mapping. Once a chain has been created, each company can examine all the facilities they have been given access to and make sure they are compliant with recognized social auditing and certification schemes. The system will also detect non-audited or non-certified suppliers, alerting the company to a potential business risk and triggering remediation plans. For example, it can help instigate facility inspections to ascertain compliance with industry standards.
Working with Transparency-One reduces risk to a company and encourages minimum labor standards globally. It will also help a company reduce the possibility of food fraud, unsafe food practices and forced labor appearing in their supply chain. At the same time, Transparency-One can also help enhance supply chain efficiency and build customer confidence, helping to improve brand recognition.
For the complete range of SGS services and support visit SGS Food Safety page.
For further information, please contact:
Georges Le Nigen
t: +33 (0)141248888