Tesco has suspended production at a Chinese factory after a six-year-old girl found a message in the supermarket’s charity Christmas cards alleging it was packed using forced labor, reported the Financial Times.
The move came after the Sunday Times reported that Florence Widdicombe, a schoolgirl from south London, had opened her Tesco cards to find a cry for help from inmates in a China jail. “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization,” the handwritten note said.
The incident highlights some of the risks for big retailers sourcing low-cost products from suppliers in countries with weak human rights protections and opaque supply chains. Florence’s charity cards, decorated with Santa kittens, cost £1.50 ($1.95) a box.
Tesco said it was “shocked” by the allegations and had decided to suspend production at the factory that produced the cards, and withdraw the cards from sale, while an investigation took place. “We abhor the use of prison labor and would never allow it in our supply chain,” the supermarket chain said, adding that the supplier was independently audited as recently as last month “and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labor.”