Nestle, the global food and beverage giant, spans across 194 countries and employs approximately 333,000 individuals. It holds a significant presence in various industries, from coffee and bottled water to baby formula and hair care products. However, beneath its expansive reach lies a series of concerning issues and controversial practices.
One alarming revelation pertains to Nestle's cookie dough, which has been linked to serious health problems. Moreover, some of Nestle's bottled water sources are drawn from small villages in Pakistan, depriving those in dire need of clean water. Furthermore, there are allegations that Nestle might be implicated in forced labor in certain parts of its supply chain.
While Nestle produces some of the world's most beloved candies, frozen foods, and ice cream products, it remains one of the most protested and boycotted companies globally. The reasons for this widespread dissatisfaction with Nestle are manifold.
Firstly, Nestle's CEO once controversially claimed that water is not a human right, despite Nestle's status as the world's largest supplier of bottled water. They have even pushed for the idea that water is more of a human need than a human right. This stance has led to concerns, especially considering Nestle's extensive water bottling operations, which have contributed to droughts in places like California.
Nestle has also faced numerous accusations of violating water pollution limits in several countries, including the UK and China. In China, they take advantage of already polluted waters to profit further. In Brazil, Nestle has continued to extract water for its Perrier brand despite legal disputes.
Furthermore, Nestle has been involved in lawsuits, like one in Chicago where they were sued for falsely labeling their Ice Mountain Water as mostly tap water. They settled out of court by contributing $10 million to charities and offering discounts but admitted no guilt.
On the chocolate front, Nestle, a major player in the industry, was exposed in 2010 for purchasing cocoa beans from Ivorian cocoa plantations that used child labor. The Fair Labor Association found serious violations of Nestle's own supply chain codes. Nestle's claims of prioritizing the eradication of child labor were contradicted by the report, which suggested that Nestle was fully aware of child labor in its supply chain but took inadequate measures to address it.
In the realm of baby products, Gerber, a Nestle subsidiary, promoted its baby formula aggressively in economically disadvantaged countries in the 1990s. This campaign failed to inform mothers in these regions about the necessity of sterilizing water before using formula, leading to polluted formula and increased child mortality rates. Nestle's promotion of formula over breastfeeding in these areas had dire consequences.
Nestle's greenwashing practices have also come under scrutiny. Despite marketing claims, investigations have revealed that many of Nestle's water bottles never get recycled, ending up in landfills. Additionally, Nestle's involvement in the cocoa industry has been linked to deforestation in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where cocoa traders sell illegally grown beans to companies like Nestle.
Lastly, Nestle has been involved in several food safety scandals, including a 2009 warning from the FDA and CDC regarding E. coli contamination in Nestle Toll House cookie dough. The most notorious incident was the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, where Nestle products contaminated with melamine led to numerous illnesses and deaths.
Despite its popularity and market dominance, Nestle remains a controversial and heavily criticized company, drawing international boycotts and ongoing monitoring by committees concerned about its practices. These issues shed light on the ethical concerns surrounding Nestle, prompting consumers to reconsider their choices when it comes to Nestle products.