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Investigation Highlights Labor Abuses in U.K. Supermarket Supply Chains

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the government to do more to ensure the safety of supply chain workers, following revelations of labour abuses at farms supplying U.K. supermarkets.

Italian prosecutor Paola Guglielmi revealed last month that an investigation had found incidences of labour abuses in the supply chains of two Italian food giants: Mutti and Conserve Italia, which supply major U.K. supermarkets with tinned tomatoes and passata.

The investigation was triggered by the death of a Sudanese farm worker, who suffered a heart attack while working in a tomato field in Nardo, southern Italy, where most of the country’s $3.7bn-a-year tomato industry is based, according to The Guardian.

Guglielmi said investigators found workers at the farm supplying Mutti and Conserve Italia’s brand Cirio had been kept in horrific conditions with no access to medical care, with both firms “benefitting from conditions of absolute exploitation.”

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the BRC, said the case highlighted the vulnerability of supply chain workers, which authorities needed to address.

“This is a tragic case and we expect the Italian authorities to carry out a full investigation,” he said. “Where laws have been broken, we expect the perpetrators to brought to justice.”

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Italian prosecutor Paola Guglielmi revealed last month that an investigation had found incidences of labour abuses in the supply chains of two Italian food giants: Mutti and Conserve Italia, which supply major U.K. supermarkets with tinned tomatoes and passata.

The investigation was triggered by the death of a Sudanese farm worker, who suffered a heart attack while working in a tomato field in Nardo, southern Italy, where most of the country’s $3.7bn-a-year tomato industry is based, according to The Guardian.

Guglielmi said investigators found workers at the farm supplying Mutti and Conserve Italia’s brand Cirio had been kept in horrific conditions with no access to medical care, with both firms “benefitting from conditions of absolute exploitation.”

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the BRC, said the case highlighted the vulnerability of supply chain workers, which authorities needed to address.

“This is a tragic case and we expect the Italian authorities to carry out a full investigation,” he said. “Where laws have been broken, we expect the perpetrators to brought to justice.”

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