British supermarket giant TESCO suspended a Chinese supplier of Christmas cards on Sunday (Dec 22) after a press report said a customer found a message written inside a card saying it had been packed by foreign prisoners who were victims of forced labor.
“We abhor the use of prison labor and would never allow it in our supply chain,” a Tesco spokesman said on Sunday. “We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”
Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, donates 300,000 pounds ($390,000) a year from the sale of the cards to the charities British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.
The Sunday Times said the message inside the card read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization. “Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey.” Peter Humphrey is a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator.
The cards were produced at the Zhejiang Yunguang Printing factory, about 100 km (60 miles) from Shanghai Qingpu prison, Tesco said. The company, which prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies, says on its website it supplies Tesco.
A staff member who answered the company’s main telephone line on Monday told Reuters they were unaware of the press reports or Tesco’s comments. She declined to provide her name. The company did not respond to further emailed requests for comment.
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