By pulling its advertising from the conservative news website Breitbart this week over an alleged conflict in values, Kellogg’s unintentionally brought a glaring spotlight on itself — and it did so at the worst time ever.
On the very same day that Kellogg’s announced it would be dissociating itself from Breitbart, the human rights organization Amnesty International released a shocking report accusing the iconic food manufacturer of “selling everyday grocery staples containing palm oil produced using child labor,” the U.K. Independent reported.
Available for review at Amnesty International’s official website, the report explicitly alleged that Kellogg’s and several other global firms were using palm oil made by children aged between 8 and 14 who worked at Indonesian plantations owned by Wilmar International.
“The Kellogg Company (Kellogg’s) … and (several others) are sourcing palm oil from refineries where the palm oil has been directly supplied or, at the very least, been mixed with palm oil produced on plantations where there are severe labor rights abuses,” the report read.
According to Breitbart, Kellogg’s has since released a statement admitting that it was indeed using “palm oil from Wilmar,” but only in those of its Pringles chips that it sells in China. Because that makes it OK, apparently.
In trying to explain why it had not investigated this matter itself, the company reportedly blamed poor “traceability.”
“Using mealy-mouthed excuses about ‘traceability’ is a total cop-out from those companies,” Amnesty International’s business and human rights program director, Peter Frankental, told The U.K. Guardian in response to Kellogg’s excuse.
“You can be sure that if one of these companies’ products were contaminated and had to be taken off the shelves of supermarkets, they would ensure that they could trace the source to specific plantations,” he added.
Amnesty International has reportedly urged Kellogg’s and other brands caught up in the scandal to “immediately” begin pressuring Wilmar to stop exploiting children. Realistically, however, a better option would have been to encourage Kellogg to just find a new palm oil cultivator, though this could present logistical problems for the manufacturer due to Pringles’ popularity.
However, there would have been zero problems for the manufacturer had it simply performed its due diligence. Because it failed at this task, it will likely now pay a huge price.
And the fact that it just disrespected Breitbart’s millions of readers over their “values” only makes it worse.
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