By Fabio Teixeira
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Carrefour and a Brazilian supermarket chain on Wednesday severed ties with Brazilian companies involved in slave labor after coming under fire for buying meat sourced from blacklisted farmers.
The French supermarket retailer - Europe's largest - and Grupo Pão de Açucar (GPA) have pledged in recent years to keep their supply chains free of slave labor.
But in 2018 and 2019 the retailers worked with three meat packers that bought cattle from farms where dozens of workers were forced to work against their will, according to Reporter Brasil.
The anti-slavery group on Wednesday said the farms were on Brazil's "dirty list" of firms that have enslaved people or made them work in degrading conditions for little or no pay
"After an internal investigation and explanations given by the supplier [we] decided to suspend the buying of products," Carrefour Brasil Group said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
GPA suspended two suppliers as soon as it "was made aware of the facts," it said.
Brazil exports billions of dollars of beef every year to countries including China. Cattle ranchers also supply meat to many of the 1,670 stores in the country operated by GPA and Carrefour.
In Brazil, slavery is defined as forced labor, as well as working for free to pay off debts incurred with an employer - known as bonded labor - demeaning work conditions and long hours that pose a health risk.
Reporter Brasil did not say how much of the meat from the three companies ended up on supermarket shelves.
Over 180 companies are currently named on the government's blacklist used to fight modern-day slavery by barring businesses on it from receiving loans from state banks.
(Reporting by Fabio Teixeira; Editing by Tom Finn. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
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