Bumble Bee Foods shuts down another of the controversies over its company. The settlement of the lawsuit filed by the Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) has ended with an agreement to remove claims about their fishing practices and working conditions from marketing materials.
This lawsuit was originally filed in the District of Columbia (U.S.) in 2022 in which the plaintiffs, GLJ-ILRF, alleged that Bumble Bee Foods and its owner, FCF Co. based in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) engaged in unorthodox labor practices. The resolution of the agreement is now known.
The agreement outlaws some of the claims that defined Bumble Bee's products. These include "fair and safe supply chain" and "fair and responsible working conditions" on its website, social media, and other visibility materials for 10 years.
The lawsuit states that most of the tuna produced through FCF's supply chain comes from fishing methods and regions recognized by U.S. government agencies as at high risk for forced labor and other abuses. Although, Bumble Bee has made marketing and advertising representations that "convey to consumers, including consumers in the District of Columbia, that Bumble Bee is 'best-in-class' in terms of its worker safety standards" but is not.
Moreover, the lawsuit states that the problem is not only for consumers because of the marketing deception, but also a reality that workers have had to face. The lawsuit noted that Bumblee Bee and FCF have "a poor record of labor practices" that is "so well documented that, in September 2021, Greenpeace (with the support of other human rights organizations) filed a petition with the U.S. government to investigate and possibly block the importation of the company's seafood". Even alleging that the standards did not meet the minimum standards recognized by international law.
This is not the first time that Bumble Bee's practices have been questioned by the courts; a clear example is the MSC sustainability labels. One chapter of their controversial practices is closed, but it remains to be seen how the next one will be.