Consumer Group Files Lawsuit Against Starbucks Over False Ethical Sourcing Claims

Washington, D.C. – Starbucks is facing a lawsuit from a consumer group in the United States, accusing the company of making false and misleading claims about its coffee sourcing practices. The National Consumers League alleges that Starbucks’ assertion of ethical sourcing for its coffee is deceptive and contradicted by documented human rights and labor abuses on farms in Guatemala, Kenya, and Brazil that supply the company.

The consumer group points out media reports that highlight disturbing incidents, such as a case in Brazil where police rescued workers, including teenagers, from a coffee farm. These workers were subjected to arduous manual labor without proper protective gear. Another incident cited in the lawsuit is a report by BBC exposing sexual abuse and harsh working conditions on a Kenyan tea plantation that used to supply Starbucks.

In response to the allegations, Starbucks has stated that it takes these claims seriously and is committed to working with farms that adhere to its standards. The company has developed ethical sourcing guidelines and utilizes third parties to verify conditions at its suppliers. Starbucks claims to have zero tolerance for child labor and demands a safe and fair working environment for farmers.

Nevertheless, the National Consumers League argues that Starbucks misleads consumers by not disclosing the limitations of its certification program, which does not guarantee ethical sourcing. The consumer group is seeking legal action to prevent Starbucks from engaging in deceptive advertising and to compel the company to run a corrective ad campaign.

Starbucks, which purchases approximately 3% of the world’s coffee and collaborates with over 400,000 farmers in more than 30 countries, is now facing scrutiny over its ethical sourcing claims. The lawsuit challenges the company’s packaging, which asserts a commitment to “100% ethical coffee sourcing.” The CEO of the National Consumers League, Sally Greenberg, believes that consumers have the right to know the truth about the products they purchase.

In conclusion, Starbucks is being sued by a consumer group in the United States for allegedly making false and misleading claims about its coffee sourcing practices. The company is accused of not living up to its packaging statement of “100% ethical coffee sourcing” in light of documented human rights and labor abuses on the farms that supply its coffee. Starbucks is prepared to defend itself against the claims.