Confectionary News reports that Nestlé USA has been refused a motion for dismissal by a Californian court in its fight against those who claim they are wrongly advertising their chocolate products as sustainably sourced.
The case claims that Nestlé is misleading their consumers about the use of child and slave labour in the West African cocoa supply chain. Lawyers have accused the company of knowing for more than a decade about the atrocities, to give a guise to their consumers that they are following socially and environmentally responsible standards.
The case is using one of California’s consumer protection laws to penalise Nestlé’s actions of buying cocoa from West African farms that use slave and child labour.
Nestlé’s defence was grounded in its right to free speech, claiming its statements of sustainability as an effort to improve the lives of farmers and are a matter of public interest.
But, the Californian court disregarded Nestlé’s justification, finding the company’s statements were alleged deceptions, not protected by free speech.