Whistleblower Network News reports on the case of Dr Yasmine Motarjemi, who against all odds fought against one of the worlds most powerful food conglomerates, Nestlé, regarding their consumer safety violations.
In 2000, Dr Motarjemi joined the company as the Corporate Food Safety Manager, responsible for food safety on an international level. Following the appointment, Dr Motarjemi witnessed a corporate culture of staff choosing their rankings and salaries over the safety of consumers which had a negative impact on identified food safety issues.
In 2005, a major crisis occurred when Nestlé infant formula was contaminated with traces of ink from packaging. Disciplinary action was taken against Dr Motarjemi’s superior when he raised concerns.
Following this incident, Dr Motarjemi witnessed multiple incidents which displayed Nestlé’s gross negligence towards consumer safety. These included a company policy which rewarded managers who did not recall defective products from market; aflatoxin poisoning in pet food produce; and 300,000 children poisoned, leading to several deaths, linked to contaminated infant formula in China.
Between 2006 and 2010, Dr Motarjemi blew the whistle multiple times. In 2009, her contract was terminated and she was encouraged to sign a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for money.
Dr Motarjemi endured an arduous 10 years of legal battles. Despite the court ruling in her favour on multiple occasions, Dr Motarjemi suffered a career blow, public humiliation and financial ruin.
Commenting on her fight, Dr Yasmine Motarjemi said, “At the end of the story, despite all the regulations and media publicity around the subject and a number of NGOs active in the field, whistleblowing remains a lonely journey.”
At present, Nestlé has suffered zero penalties in Switzerland, despite the allegations of endangering the health of their customers.