Friday, September 14, 2018

Buying fish for human rights: pet food

This is the third post of a series on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover salmon and tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel.

Last year I blogged about how Martin and I try to shop in ways that support human rights.  We do that by:
  1. Preferentially buying things produced in low income countries;
  2. Buying things produced under the best labour conditions available;
  3. Trying not to buy things produced by child or forced labour.
The reasons behind these principles are explained in more detail here.

When buying fish-containing pet food, following these principles can be particularly challenging.

Firstly, you may not even realise the pet food you are buying contains fish.  Some cat and dog foods mention fish in the product name, but fish is an ingredient in many cat and dog foods that don't.  Regardless of the product name, the vast majority of fish food contains seafood of some kind, as does all turtle food and some food for other reptiles.  The only category that seems never to do so is small animal food.  If the product name mentions fish or other seafood, you can be confident it's there; if it doesn't, you can't be confident it's not unless you read the ingredients list.

Secondly, unlike human food, pet food often contains highly processed fish products like fish meal and fish oil.  Without careful checking by the company you cannot be confident such products are free of human rights abuses: there are many steps between the sea and the final product and most of these steps are known to use child and/or forced labour some of the time.  In addition, when named fish are used in pet food the most common choices are deep sea species such as tuna, mackerel and ocean whitefish: these are at very high risk for human rights abuses as boats are often out at sea for months or even years at a time and those on board can't escape if things go bad.

Working around all that may sound terribly complicated, but I have good news!  Several companies are working very hard to root human rights abuses out of their supply chains.  If you restrict your purchases to brands in the following chart you can be reasonably confident you're not supporting child or slave labour; and if you preferentially buy those brands circled in red you'll help provide good employment to people in low income countries.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1o-LjrNFWOrPwH7dkQIMZ_fYDMvtnkBhs
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)
Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.

Pet food is a product where there is an extremely high risk of human rights abuses.  Supply chains are long and margins are tight.  If you want to avoid perpetuating these abuses, it is crucial that you buy your pet food with care.  This article describes how to do that, but it's very long as the issues are quite complicated.  Use the links in the table of contents below to jump through to the sections that interest you the most.

 

Is there fish in your pet food?

The first step is to find out whether the pet food you are interested in contains fish.  Products that mention fish in the name obviously do, but so do a surprising number of other products:
  • most cat food contains fish, whether it's mentioned in the name or not (see one reliable exception here);
  • 'hidden' fish is found in roughly a quarter of the dog food products I checked.  I couldn't really find a pattern to its use: it does seem more common in puppy food and the more expensive brands of dog food, but it also occurred in certain adult flavours in some of the cheaper brands (a few reliable exceptions are here);
  • almost all fish food contains fish (the exception is a few brands of algal food for herbivorous fish - but even most 'algal' food uses fish!);
  • reptile food is mixed - some reptile food is based on insects, but food and treats for turtles and tortoises almost always includes fish or seafood of some kind.
Food for small animals and birds generally don't include fish, although I can't be sure it isn't sometimes there; fish is certainly common in commercial chicken feed.  Always read the ingredients list!

Click the links to jump to considerations of cat and dog food, fish food or reptile food or read on to learn about the issues in the industry in more detail.

 

Issues

In order to be reasonably sure your fish-containing pet food hasn't been produced by child or forced labour and has been produced in reasonable working conditions, you need to consider the various stages the fish has passed through from the sea to your pantry:
  • Fishing - where forced labour is common (especially in Thailand, where many companies source the fish for their pet food);
  • Processing - where both forced and child labour are well known;
  • Manufacture of final product - again, a stage where worker abuses can occur, although they are less common as many companies choose to carry out final manufacture in high-income countries with strong labour laws.
It also helps to be aware of the resources available to help pet food companies navigate this complicated territory - these can be good to mention if a company tells you the problems are intractable!

Fishing
The fish most commonly named in pet food are deepwater species such as ocean whitefish (which is a particular species of fish, not a generic term as I first thought) and tuna.  As discussed in my post on tuna, sardines and mackerel, deep-sea fishing is at high risk of human rights abuses as vessels are often far out to sea for long periods of time.  Forced labour seems to be quite common in tuna fishing and is also known on whitefish trawlers.  You shouldn't buy pet food containing deep-water fish without reasonable assurance that forced labour hasn't occurred.

Salmon is also commonly used in pet food: this is generally only of concern if the salmon is farmed.  Wild salmon is generally caught coastally and in countries with good human rights records, but farmed salmon is often fed on fish meal of dubious origin from a human rights perspective.  Ask the company if the fish is farmed or wild caught and, if farmed, what they know about its feed.

Other species I have seen include shrimp, anchovies, clams, crabs, prawns, sea bream, whitebait, pilchards, squid and snapper.  I will be covering issues specific to some of these species in future posts so for the moment will simply note that none of them are completely without concern from a human rights perspective.

Many pet food products don't name the fish they use: instead you will simply find ingredients such as 'fish', 'fish oil', 'fish meal', 'hydrolysed fish protein', 'dehydrated fish', 'fish by-products' etc.  These are mostly byproducts of fish primarily caught for human consumption, although some species (such as Peruvian anchovies or Pacific sardines) are caught specifically for fish meal and oil production.  Forced labour and extreme violence has been well-documented in fishing for fish meal production in Thailand, so Thai fish meal should be treated with particular caution.  However, in general, I believe that any fish meal or oil should be assumed to be derived from fish caught with child and/or slave labour unless demonstrated otherwise: these are mixed products and such abuses are widespread, so they are likely to have occurred in the sourcing of at least some of the original fish.

Lastly, regardless of the species, much of the fish used in pet food is caught in Thailand.  ILO investigations have found that 17% of all workers on Thai fishing boats are there unwillingly - i.e. in some form of slavery.  Always ask a pet food company where they source their fish; if it is from Thailand, ask what they are doing to ensure they're not supporting slavery.

Processing
Many fish products used in pet food are processed before they arrive at the plant in which they are formulated into pet food.  Crabs and shrimps need to be shelled, many species are processed into meal or oil etc.  Almost universally this happens in countries with poor labour rights records and abuses (especially child labour) are common.  Again, unless demonstrated otherwise, you should assume that child or forced labour happened at this step.

Manufacture of final product
Unlike processing, final manufacture is quite often done in the West.  Western facilities are highly likely to be free of child or forced labour, but as they do not give jobs to people in low income countries, you can't get around the issues by choosing fish-free products.  Your best choice from a human rights perspective is to choose products manufactured in independently audited factories in low income countries; if such aren't available then it is best to go for products manufactured in the West.

Resources to help pet food companies
As you can see, the fish-related supply chains in pet food production can be very long and complicated.  Few companies have the resources to trace products through all these steps themselves; however, there are resources to help them do so:
  • Companies such as Verisk Maplecroft can help them identify high risk points in their supply chain so they can focus their efforts there.
  • They can join the Seafood Task Force to get assistance with traceability and assist in concerted efforts to eliminate forced and child labour. 
  • If part of their business is in Thailand (and it's rare for it not to be) they can enlist the help of Isaara, an NGO working to eliminate forced and child labour from the Thai seafood industry.
  • In Thailand they can also choose to use factories with TLS 8001 (and globally they can choose factories with SA8000 certification), both of which are audited standards covering forced and child labour as well as a range of other labour issues.
Read on to see how these issues are addressed by companies making cat and dog food, or click through to the companies making fish food or reptile food.

 

Cat and dog food

Fish is an extremely common ingredient in cat food - especially dry food.  If you are buying products from brands other than those I recommend at the end, please check the ingredients list of the product you buy.  Just because it doesn't say 'with tasty salmon' on the label doesn't mean you won't find dehydrated fish, fish meal, fish oil or hydrolysed fish protein somewhere in the ingredients list!

Fish is less common in dog food but is still used widely, including in many products that do not mention fish in the name.

Click for brands of cat and dog food that are reliably fish-free in at least certain whole categories - these are generally cheaper than the brands I recommend as having responsibly sourced fish!

Companies that make cat and dog food

I contacted a number of cat and dog food brands.  In the process, I discovered many companies produce multiple brands.  As each company tends to have the same sourcing policies across all their brands I've structured my examination of policies around the companies rather than stating the same information again and again for each of their brands.  To jump to the section relating to the company producing the brand you're interested in, use these links:


The companies I contacted were Applaws, Nestle, New Zealand King Salmon, Mars, Heinz Watties, Countdown and Foodstuffs.  All but Countdown responded to my queries - for them my analysis is based on the information on their website.  I also looked into Hartz, but didn't contact them as their website contained sufficient information for my purposes :-)

From my research, I recommend the products of Applaws, Nestle (Fancy Feast, Friskies, PurinaOne, PurinaProPlan, PurinaDentaLife, PurinaCatChow, PurinaDogChow, Tux, Beneful, Beggin'), New Zealand King Salmon (OmegaPlus) and Hartz, as well as certain Mars brands (Royal Canin for cats and Eukanuba, MyDog, Pedigre and Royal Canin for dogs).  These are reasonably likely to be free of child and slave labour.   The Applaws products also provide good jobs to people in low income countries through much of their supply chain, as do the Nestle ones (although through less of the supply chain in their case).  These products are especially recommended!

Read on to find out why or click through to my discussion of recommended brands and the products they produce.

Applaws
From the Applaws website it is clear that they do a lot of processing in Thailand: that makes them a good choice in terms of purchasing products produced in low income countries, so long as the jobs they provide are good jobs!  Their website states that they require their suppliers to ensure all workers, regardless of local laws, be at least 15 years old and be free to join a union, plus they require that employment be freely chosen (i.e. no forced labour).  MPM (Applaws' parent company) or its suppliers regularly visit factories to check these standards are being adhered to.  Suppliers must be members of at least one of a list of organisations: most of these deal more with environmental sustainability than human rights, but one of them is the Thai Tuna Industry Association.  They are known for having better-than-average labour standards in their factories (see my post on tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel), so products produced through them meet the criterion of 'products produced in the best labour conditions available'.

Reading the information on their website, I was unclear about two things:
  1. whether these high standards applied at sea as well as on land;
  2. how robustly these standards were policed.
I contacted Applaws and learned, firstly, that they work with suppliers who are members of the Seafood Task Force, which covers working conditions at sea and in farms, not just in factories.  This organisation was formed by the Thai government to address concerns about labour rights in the seafood industry.  There have certainly been criticisms of its operations, but it does seem to be making significant progress and has been particularly complemented on the way it involves workers in its processes.  I do not think the Seafood Task Force has good enough monitoring to be confident no forced labour occurs on its members' boats, but membership certainly reduces the likelihood of such practices occurring.

Secondly, Applaws tells me that they make both announced and unannounced visits to factories and, where possible, interview workers about their experiences.  They also choose factories that have at least one of the following certifications:
  • TLS 8001, a Thai standard administered by the Thai Department of Labour and Welfare that covers such things as forced labour, fair pay, no child labour, OSH, etc.  It sets higher standards than those required by Thai law and these standards are audited, although I was unclear how often and whether or not these audits are pre-announced.
  • ISO 9001, which is primarily about quality management systems but has had a positive impact on workplace safety and possibly on worker rights more generally.
  • ISO 14001, which is about environmental management and doesn't seem to touch on human rights issues as such.
I do not think it is possible to be certain that Applaws' products are slave free at sea.  However, they are making reasonable efforts to minimise the likelihood of slavery occurring in their supply chain (within the constraints of their relatively small size as a company).  And, as with Nestle, on land staff producing Applaws pet food definitely have better-than-average working conditions.  In addition, it seems a number of Applaws products are manufactured in Thailand right through to the final product, which makes them an excellent choice when it comes to providing good jobs in low income countries.  Applaws is thus a good choice if you want to buy products that support good jobs in low income countries and which are reasonably likely to be child and slave labour free.

Nestle
Fancy Feast, Friskies, PurinaOne, PurinaProPlan, PurinaCatChow, PurinaDentaLife, PurinaDogChow, Tux, Beneful (and Beggin', which is fish-free in all flavours).

Nestle seems to source most of the fish used in their pet food from Thailand where it is processed by Thai Union, although the finished products are then made in high-income countries. Through their presence in Thailand they are very exposed to a market where child labour and forced labour are common in the fishing industry.  They have the ability to either be party to a lot of harm or improve things for vulnerable people depending on how they respond to this.

Nestle seems well aware of these complexities and have taken significant steps to avoid supporting them.  They work closely with the NGOs Verit√© and Issara (well-respected organisations) to improve their practices in terms of worker rights.  They are part of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (which deals with worker rights as well as environmental sustainability).  They are also members of the Seafood Task Force, an organisation formed by the Thai government to address concerns about labour rights in the seafood industry both at sea and on land.*  They have an action plan for progress in their Thai supply chain which they update annually.

* There have been criticisms of the operations of the Seafood Task Force, but overall it does seem to be making significant progress and has been particularly complemented on the way it involves workers in its processes.

In addition, I think it is significant that they have chosen Thai Union to process all fish used by Nestle in their pet food.  Activist Andy Hall tells me that Thai Union has the best human rights practices of any Thai fish processing company.

As with almost all fish-containing pet food, we cannot be certain their products are free of slavery at sea.  Nestle is working with Isaara to change this, but they're at a pretty early stage and right now can only be confident that 25% of their seafood is slave free.  However, I do feel that, both on sea and on land, workers involved in the supply chain of Nestle's fish-containing pet food work in the best conditions available in Thailand.

It seems that Nestle products made for the Western market are generally made in Western countries, although products with the same brand names made for the Asian market are often made in Thailand.  Nestle products sold in New Zealand thus don't provide jobs to people in low income countries at this final stage but they do through earlier stages of the process.

On balance I think the Nestle pet food brands are a good choice as they do provide good jobs to our neighbours in low income countries, plus they are reasonably likely to be slave and child labour free.


New Zealand King Salmon
Omega Plus
New Zealand King Salmon is a salmon-farming company that produces a pet food brand, omega plus, alongside their human brands.  For a business that farms and processes fish on land in a country with strong labour laws, the main human rights concern is feed sourcing (see my post on salmon for more information as to why).

New Zealand King Salmon are very aware of the human rights issues in fish meal and fish oil sourcing and only buy from suppliers that have BAP certification.  Such suppliers are subject to unannounced third-party audits to check worker rights.  Currently New Zealand King Salmon source the bulk of their feed from Peru, with the balance being from the EU.  Their major supplier is Skretting: 90% of Skretting's suppliers have signed a code of conduct that not only commits them to eliminating child and forced labour, but includes a number of other important human rights provisions.  They are actively working to push this up to 100%.

I think that Omega Plus pet food is a good choice from a human rights point of view.  Most of their production occurs in New Zealand, so it doesn't provide many jobs for people in low-income countries, but those jobs it does provide are definitely amongst the best available in their sector.


Hartz
Hartz has a detailed statement on human rights in their supply chain on their website.  They do not state where they source any fish from, however they describe their standards of engagement with suppliers, which include:
  • Evaluating supply chain risks: Hartz conducts an extensive auditing process when a supplier seeks to become a supply chain partner with Hartz. The applicant must prepare and submit an extensive survey of its business operations, including its labor practices. Our Standards of Engagement specifically make clear that slavery or forced labor, and human trafficking, can have no place in any part of Hartz’s supply chain.
  • Auditing suppliers: Hartz conducts audits of our supply chain suppliers, both when a supplier is first engaged and periodically thereafter, which audits can be unannounced.
  • Supplier confirmation: Hartz requires its supply chain partners to confirm that products they supply to Hartz were produced in compliance with Hartz’s Standards of Engagement.
  • Accountability: Hartz will take action against supply chain suppliers who fail to meet our Standards of Engagement, including without limitation termination of the business relationship.
These terms seem sufficient to me: Hartz actively checks on an ongoing basis whether their suppliers are free of forced labour.  They appear to apply these standards throughout their supply chain.

It seems from the packaging of various Hartz products that their products are manufactured in the USA; in addition, they make no claims that lead me to suggest that their products provide jobs (let alone unusually good jobs) to people in low income countries further back in their supply chain.  Hartz products meet the minimum requirements of being slave and child labour free, but I think there are better choices if you want to provide good jobs to your global neighbours.


Mars
Whiskas, Dine, Temptations, Iams, Nutro, Royal Canin, Eukanuba, Pedigree, MyDog.
I have been in email conversation with people from the brands Royal Canin and Eukanuba in New Zealand, as well as perusing the Mars global website.  Mars publishes quite a lot of information about how they strive to protect the human rights of the approximately 1 million people in their supply chain, but not so much about where their fish is sourced or processed.  They clearly some source some fish in Thailand for their cat food brands, but I'm not sure if all the fish in their cat food comes from there.  I don't know where they source the fish for their dog food and I don't know where anything is processed.

In terms of human rights in general, all first tier suppliers (which I presume here means the factories that produce the finished pet food) must sign a code of conduct.  This includes commitments to not use child or forced labour and an agreement to submit to unannounced audits of their compliance.  As of 2017, more than 85% of first tier suppliers were complying with the standards required of them.  Mars also provides training to first tier suppliers to help them apply similar standards to their own suppliers.

Mars uses the services of Verisk Maplecroft to identify countries/commodities/products that are a particularly high risk of human rights abuses.  These parts of their supply chain are then subject either to additional self-assessments or (I think semi-announced) independent audits.  From my correspondence with Royal Canin I also learned that they track products through their supply chain using Sedex, a platform which collates and standardises data about known labour rights issues at many stages of supply chains.

In terms of fish as such, they have a sustainability policy that is mostly concerned with issues such as overfishing, but does include the goal of "advancing respect for human rights in our fish supply chain."  They have traced the ultimate source of 43% of the fish and seafood they use in their products (and hope to have traced 100% by 2020) so are in a good position to do this if they want to.  So far, they appear to have focused these efforts primarily on Thailand, where they have:
  • joined the Seafood Task Force (although they call it by its old name - the Sustainable Shrimp Task Force) - an organisation formed by the Thai government to address concerns about labour rights in the seafood industry both at sea and on land;*
  • developed a policy for improving human rights in their Thai fish and seafood operations, with various KPIs including publicly reporting their progress;
  • set up a hotline with selected suppliers that workers can use to contact Issara (a reputable Thai NGO) with concerns.
 * There have been criticisms of the operations of the Seafood Task Force, but overall it does seem to be making significant progress and has been particularly complimented on the way it involves workers in its processes.

These commitments sound good, but Mars doesn't seem to be keeping up with them very well.  They introduced their supplier code of conduct in 2011 and state that they revise it every two years, but the most recent version is more than four years old.  Similarly, they committed in 2016 to issue quarterly progress reports on the Thai fisheries action plan, but so far they have only issued reports for the first two quarters of 2017.  I have asked Mars if they can direct me to the others in case they are lodged elsewhere, but they haven't replied.  As of the most recent report, they were just about to start the risk assessment of human rights conditions in their supply chain, so they themselves do not yet have any idea whether there is slavery in their Thai supply chain.  They still seem to be making some progress, but I find the lack of adherence to their action plan in this area very concerning.  The human rights risks in this part of their supply chain are acute; in order for them to be reliably slave and child labour free they need to do much better there.

Mars uses fish from Thailand only in their cat food brands, and (from private correspondence) such fish isn't used in the brand Royal Canin.  The fish used in their dog food (and Royal Canin cat food) appears to come from the US.  That means these brands are unlikely to have slavery or child labour involved in their fish catching/farming and processing.  The final manufacture of Mars pet food for the Western market appears to be carried out in Western countries so slavery and child labour is unlikely to be involved at this stage in any products sold in New Zealand.

In summary, the final manufacturing stage of all Mars pet food products is very unlikely to have used slave or child labour but also doesn't support good jobs in low income countries.  Similarly, those products that do not use fish caught, farmed or processed in Thailand (i.e. the dog food brands plus Royal Canin for cats and dogs) are also likely to be free of child or slave labour but also don't support good jobs in low income countries.



Heinz Watties
Chef, Champ, Gourmet, Nutri+Plus
Heinz Watties don't have anything on their website about human rights in their supply chain.  In answer to my queries, Heinz Watties said:
We source our Tuna/Salmon and all other varieties from various suppliers throughout New Zealand.

Kraft Heinz is an ethical company and adheres to all the employment regulations. 
That doesn't seem at all good enough to me.  It is good that Kraft Heinz themselves adheres to all employment regulations, but human rights issues are more likely to occur further up the supply chain (i.e. on fishing boats) than in Kraft Heinz facilities directly.  When I asked them about this they did not reply.

Later I realised that Heinz Watties' parent company, Kraft Heinz, has on its website a set of principles it requires suppliers to adhere to.  These explicitly prevent suppliers from using forced or child labour.  However, such principles are only worthwhile if they are enforced.  On this matter, they say:
Suppliers will be expected to certify their compliance with these Supplier Guiding Principles at Kraft Heinz’s request, and to authorize Kraft Heinz and its designated agents (including any third parties) to engage in monitoring activities, including on-site inspections based upon reasonable notice.

When Kraft Heinz becomes aware of any actions or conditions not in compliance with these Supplier Guiding Principles, such actions or conditions will be reviewed, and appropriate corrective measures will be implemented.
 There is no information given as to how frequently Kraft Heinz even requests suppliers to certify that they comply with these principles or how often they engage in monitoring activities - and it is clear that there will be no unannounced audits.  I think that the simple fact Kraft Heinz has these 'guiding principles' means that slave and child labour are less likely to be present in their supply chain than in the supply chains of Pams or Countdown.  However, given it is unclear how well they are enforced (if at all) I would not be at all confident that child or slave labour do not occur in their supply chain.

Countdown
Countdown Home Brand, Countdown Select, Smitten, Baxters
The Countdown website doesn't provide any information about the sourcing of the fish in their pet food brands and they haven't as yet answered my enquiries.  However, their 2020 strategy states:
"16. We will focus on a best practice compliance system according to the Global Compliance Programme. We will collaborate with peak organisations to improve workers lives"
Which doesn't initially seem to mean much, until they expand it out to say:
"We have an ethical sourcing policy which we expect all our suppliers to adhere to.  Alongside Woolworths in Australia, we audit own brand factories based on considerations such as human rights and labour practices.  We will build on our audit and compliance practice to ensure our supply chain accords with global best practice.
That suggests to me that their 'home brand' and 'select' pet food are likely canned in a facility with good labour practices (and maybe Smitten and Baxters as well), but doesn't say anything about the conditions on the boats other than that they will work on it.  Given that forced labour is very common at sea, I think it is very unlikely the Countdown brands are free of forced labour.

Foodstuffs
Pams
Pams doesn't have any information about human rights in their supply chain on their website.  When I emailed them they only said:
We expect our suppliers to comply with all applicable employment and manufacturing laws. As part of our supplier agreements, it is required that ethical principles are adhered to, including fair pay and safe working conditions for staff.

Foodstuffs would never knowingly stock a product that is the result of illegal business practices or slave labour. We acknowledge the seriousness of these issues and we actively work with suppliers to ensure that any product sold in our stores comes from a supply chain that is operating with integrity and good practices for all workers.
This may mean that they are seriously checking to see if factories are slave free (or only using those with robust certifications or memberships) or it may simply mean they require factories to sign pieces of paper to say they are.  I do not know as they didn't answer my follow-up questions beyond reiterating that they would "never knowingly stock a product that is the result of illegal business practices or slave labour."  I have little confidence in that statement on its own.  Foodstuffs supermarkets stock a lot of chocolate that is not fairly traded and, whilst it would be impossible for them to know if any individual bar was produced with slave labour, they wouldn't have to do much research at all to become certain that some of it was.  If they're applying the same standards to pet food that they apply to their chocolate I have no confidence at all that their products are slave labour free.

I think it is very unlikely that Pams fish-containing pet food is slave and child labour free.

Recommended products

Read on to see which brands of wet cat food are reasonably likely to be child and slave labour free (and which provide good jobs in low income countries) or click through for dry cat food, cat treats and specialty products or for dog food (both wet and dry).

Wet cat food

Click here to see wet cat food that is fish-free except when mentioned in the product name, or read on to learn about brands with responsibly sourced fish.

Applaws does "It's All Good" wet cat food in tins, pots, pouches, layers in jelly and jelly pouches.  Many of these have tuna as an ingredient, and some use salmon, mackerel, prawns, anchovies, sardines, crab, sea bream and 'ocean fish' as well.  Applaws is your best option for cat food that uses fish likely to be free of child and slave labour AND provides good jobs in low income countries at a number of stages from fishing through to final manufacture.  You can buy Applaws products from Countdown.

Nestle:
  • Friskies does a range of tins with different textures (pate, fillets, shreds etc.).  Most of these use fish of some kind - either generic 'fish' or actual salmon, tuna or ocean whitefish (which is a particular species, not a generic term).
  • Fancy Feast do a wide range of wet cat food, including pouches of various kinds, purees in tubes and a wide range of tins including for kittens.  Most of these contain fish and/or seafood of various kinds in the ingredients.
  • PurinaProplan has salmon and rice and chicken and rice small tins.
  • PurinaONE does a small range of tins, all but one of which include 'fish', ocean whitefish or tuna in the ingredients.
All the Nestle products include the Purina logo as part of the brand logo so are easy to identify.

Friskies and Fancy Feast should be available at your local supermarket; for Proplan and PurinaONE you'll probably have to go to a pet shop.  Nestle brands are manufactured in high income countries (mostly in either Australia or the US); they use fish mostly caught in low-income countries in reasonably good conditions.  These brands are a good option in terms of being reasonably likely to be free of slave and child labour and they support good jobs in low income countries at the fishing and initial processing stages.  Nestle is fine, but Applaws is a better choice if you also want to support good jobs in low income countries.


Omega plus sells tinned king salmon either with caviar, with chicken and on its own.  These products are all manufactured in New Zealand, but the salmon from which they're made are fed on fish meal and oil that has been produced in good labour conditions in low income countries.  You can buy their products online or in pet shops.


Royal Canin sell several breed-specific wet cat food products, as well as wet cat food for a range of specific needs.  Royal Canin have a 'vet care' range for specific needs (mostly related to the age of the cat) and a 'vet diet' range for cats with significant issues (obesity, renal issues, gastro-intestinal issues, food sensitivities etc.).  Almost all Royal Canin products include fish products (mostly fish oil), and one includes actual tuna.  Royal Canin products use fish caught/farmed in high income countries and are manufactured in high income countries so, whilst they will be slave and child labour free, they do not support good jobs in low income countries.  Royal Canin products are mostly sold through vet clinics and pet shops.

These are all relatively expensive brands.  A budget-friendly option that is slave and child labour free is Whiskas.  Whiskas wet cat food is fish-free in all flavours that don't have fish in the nameAvoid the Whiskas dry food: all flavours contain fish that will have been Thai-sourced, and Mars' plans to eliminate slavery from that part of their supply chain appear to have stalled.


Dry cat food, cat treats and specialty products
Applaws makes dry cat food with ocean fish and salmon (50% fish all up), which contains both ocean fish and salmon meal and fish oil.  They also do tuna loin cat treats.  As stated earlier, Applaws is your best choice for cat food that is child and slave labour free AND supports good jobs in low income countries.  Applaws products are stocked by Countdown.

Nestle:
  • Friskies does five flavours of dry food, all but one of which includes fish or seafood of some kind (crab, salmon, ocean whitefish, tuna etc.).  They also do eight flavours of 'party mix' treats, all but one of which have fish or other seafood in them.
  • Purina CatChow does four varieties of dry food for adult cats - 'complete', 'healthy weight', 'indoor' and 'naturals' - as well as dry food for kittens.  Most of these include fish meal or salmon.
  • Fancy Feast does four flavours of dry gourmet cat food, all but one of which include fish or seafood of some kind (salmon, snapper, tuna, prawn or crab).
  • PurinaONE does a range of dry cat foods aimed at different life stages and different needs (indoor cats, hair balls etc.).  It has fish meal in all varieties of dry food except 'Sensitive Systems' and 'Urinary Tract Health'.
  • Purina ProPlan does a small range of specialty dry cat foods aimed at different life stages and special needs (renal issues, delicate digestion etc.).  These include fish products of some kind in all flavours, with dehydrated salmon and tuna being most common.
  • Purina Dentalife does chicken and salmon-flavoured porous cat treats aimed at keeping cats' teeth clean.  These contain fish products in both flavours.
All the Nestle products include the Purina logo as part of the brand logo so are easy to identify.

All of these brands except Purina ProPlan and Purina Dentalife are available in supermarkets.  Nestle brands are manufactured in high income countries (mostly in either Australia or the US); they use fish mostly caught in low-income countries in reasonably good conditions.  These brands are a good option in terms of being reasonably likely to be free of slave and child labour and they support good jobs in low income countries at the fishing and initial processing stages.  Nestle is fine, but Applaws is a better choice if you also want to support good jobs in low income countries.



Omega plus sells both salmon and salmon and beef dry cat food as well as freeze-dried  whole salmon and salmon bites.  They also sell salmon oil for cats as a health supplement.  These products are all manufactured in New Zealand, but the salmon from which they're made are fed on fish meal and oil that has been produced in good labour conditions in low income countries.  You can buy their products online or in pet shops.


Hartz makes 'delectables' (crunchy cat treats), which come in a variety of fishy flavours as well as in roast chicken flavour.  Hartz also makes two hairball products (soft chews and a flavoured paste), both of which include salmon.  Hartz products are made in the US and mostly from US ingredients: whilst they are very likely to be child and slave labour free they aren't a great choice in terms of supporting good jobs in low income countries.  Hartz products are sold at pet shops.

Royal Canin sell several breed-specific dry cat food products and a 'healthy' dry food range that is organised by the cat's needs (indoor, outdoor, age etc.) rather than flavour.   They also produce dry food for specific requirements (urinary issues, hairballs etc.) in their feline care range, a 'vet care' range for specific needs (mostly related to the age of the cat) and a 'vet diet' range for cats with significant issues (obesity, renal issues, gastro-intestinal issues, food sensitivities etc.)  The vast majority of these products include fish, fish oil or hydrolysed crustaceans.  Royal Canin products use fish caught/farmed in high income countries and are manufactured in high income countries: whilst they will be slave and child labour free, they do not support good jobs in low income countries.  Royal Canin products are mostly sold through vet clinics and pet shops.


Dog food
Click here to see dog food brands that are reliably fish-free, or read on to learn about brands with responsibly sourced fish.

Applaws does "It's All Good" wet dog food in both tins and pouches as well as "It's All Good" dry dog food.  They have varieties targeted at breed size and life stage as well as a number of flavours aimed at all breeds and life stages.  All their dry food include fish oil amongst the ingredients and two flavours of wet food include actual fish.  Applaws is your best option for dog food that uses fish that is likely to be free of child and slave labour AND provides good jobs in low income countries at a number of stages from fishing through to final manufacture.  You can buy Applaws products from Countdown.
Omega plus sell salmon-based wet and dry dog food as well as treats of salmon tails, fins or freeze-dried whole fish.  They also sell a salmon-oil food supplement for dogs.  These products are all manufactured in New Zealand, but the salmon from which they're made are fed on fish meal and oil that has been produced in good labour conditions in low income countries.  You can buy their products online or in pet shops.


Nestle:
  • Beneful markets itself as 'fun' dog food with ingredients you can see.  It includes both wet and dry products, with products mostly identified by flavour rather than life stage or breed size.  With the exception of the salmon flavour, they are fish-free.
  • Tux  includes dog biscuits and/or kibble for both rural and urban dogs, with options for various dog sizes in a small range of flavours.  Only their rural puppy kibble contains fish. Tux products are made in New Zealand.
  • Dog chow includes adult and puppy dry dog food.  The puppy food includes fish oil.
  • Proplan includes dry dog food for puppies, adults and older dogs differentiated by size of dog rather than flavour.  They also make specialty dry food for dogs with weight issues or sensitive skins or stomachs and for active dogs.  Almost all Proplan products include fish of some kind.
  • PurinaOne includes a range of adult dry food flavours as well as special products for puppies, large dogs, older dogs and those with weight issues.  About half the varieties include fish of some form, even though it's mentioned in only one product name.
  • Dentalife treats are intended to clean your dog's teeth.  They are fish-free in all varieties.
  • Beggin' dog treats are fish-free in all varieties.
All the Nestle products include the Purina logo as part of the brand logo so are easy to identify.

All these brands are likely to be available in your local supermarket.  Nestle dog food brands are manufactured in high income countries (Tux in NZ, the others mostly in either Australia or the US).  They use fish mostly caught in low-income countries in reasonably good conditions.  These brands are a good option in terms of being reasonably likely to be free of slave and child labour and they support good jobs in low income countries at the fishing and initial processing stages.  Nestle is fine, but Applaws is a better choice if you also want to support good jobs in low income countries.


Mars:
  • Pedigree produces a range of wet and dry food aimed at different life stages and different sizes of dog.  They also have one working dog product and do dentastix for oral health.  Only their two puppy products included fish - one tuna and the other fish oil.  You can buy Pedigree products at your local supermarket or at Mitre 10.
  • Eukanuba does wet and dry dog food and dog treats.  They have dry foods targeted at life stages, size of dog and breeds as well as dry food for dogs with special needs such as sensitive skin or digestive troubles.  They also have a small range of wet food for both puppies and adult dogs.  None of the varieties mention fish in the name but fish oil is used in almost all products.  They have a small range of dog treats, all of which all include fish oil.  Eukanuba products are stocked by pet shops and vets.
  • Royal Canin brand has an extensive range of breed-specific foods - mostly dry but also some wet.  They also have ranges of wet and dry food for mini, medium, maxi and giant dogs (each of which includes products for special needs such as digestive care), as well as high performance food for working or highly active dogs.  Royal Canin also have a vet care and a vet diet range - these include products for very specific needs such as diabetic dogs or those with heart conditions.  Fish oil is found in most Royal Canin products, and hydrolysed crustaceans are also a common ingredient.  You will probably need to go to a pet shop or vet to buy Royal Canin products.
  • MyDog does a wide range of wet dog food in both trays and cans, as well as a number of dry dog food options.  The products are named by flavour, rather than breed or other particular needs.  With the exception of one of their puppy products, none of their products include fish except where stated in the actual product name.  They do a salmon tray (which includes 'fish' and sardines as well as salmon) and a fish can (which includes 'fish', sardines and tuna).  You should be able to buy MyDog products at your local supermarket.
Mars products seem all to be made in high-income countries so aren't a good choice for supporting our neighbours in low-income countries, but they are extremely likely to be slave and child labour free.


Many of these products are relatively expensive.  If you are after cheaper options, some budget brands that are fish-free in all varieties are:


Read on to learn about fish food or jump forward to reptile food or back to the start of cat and dog food.

Fish food

The vast majority of fish food currently available for the domestic market in New Zealand has fish or other seafood as the primary ingredient, as does the vast majority of food for other aquatic species such as shrimp.  This includes food for herbivorous bottom-feeders: they may go by names such as algae wafers, but the dominant ingredient in almost all cases is still fish.  This may change in the future: Ridley and the CSIRO in Australia are currently trialing a fish-free commercial shrimp feed and they hope to develop similar products for other commercial species in the future.  Such products may eventually be available for the domestic market.  For now, however, if you're keeping fish you are basically guaranteed to be feeding them fish.  That means you need to take extra care to seek out slave and child labour free options: unlike with cat and dog food, you can't get around the issues by choosing fish-free products.  Fortunately, I have found one trustworthy brand, Wardley, and they produce a wide range of fish products.

I contacted two brands of fish food available in supermarkets: Countdown Homebrand and Vitapet.  Neither replied, so I looked at their websites to see if they contained relevant information.  I also looked at an online pet shop and identified six dominant fish food brands - Wardley, Sera, Tetra, Aqua One, Nutrafin and Hikari  - and looked at their websites.  Based on my research I am only confident that Wardley products will be slave and child labour free.

Wardley
Wardley is the brand used by Hartz for their fish food range; Hartz has a detailed statement on human rights in their supply chain on their website.  They do not state where they source any fish from but they do describe their standards of engagement with suppliers:
  • Evaluating supply chain risks: Hartz conducts an extensive auditing process when a supplier seeks to become a supply chain partner with Hartz. The applicant must prepare and submit an extensive survey of its business operations, including its labor practices. Our Standards of Engagement specifically make clear that slavery or forced labor, and human trafficking, can have no place in any part of Hartz’s supply chain.
  • Auditing suppliers: Hartz conducts audits of our supply chain suppliers, both when a supplier is first engaged and periodically thereafter, which audits can be unannounced.
  • Supplier confirmation: Hartz requires its supply chain partners to confirm that products they supply to Hartz were produced in compliance with Hartz’s Standards of Engagement.
  • Accountability: Hartz will take action against supply chain suppliers who fail to meet our Standards of Engagement, including without limitation termination of the business relationship.
These terms seem sufficient to me: Hartz actively checks on an ongoing basis whether their suppliers are free of forced labour and they appear to apply these standards throughout their supply chain.  Hartz products are manufactured in the USA (and likely use fish farmed/caught in the USA), so they do not provide jobs to our neighbours in low-income countries; however they are still a good choice as they are extremely likely to be child and slave labour free.

In New Zealand Wardley sells:
  • flakes, pellets and crumbles for goldfish;
  • flakes for tropical fish and Betta Colour food to enhance the colour of your tropical fish;
  • pond flakes and pellets;
  • algal discs (Wardley is one of the few brands where these are fish-free);
  • pellets for shrimp;
  • freeze-dried krill;
  • slow-release products to feed your fish when you're away.

Countdown Homebrand
The Countdown website doesn't provide any information about the sourcing of the fish in their pet food brands and they haven't as yet answered my enquiries.  However, their 2020 strategy states:
"16. We will focus on a best practice compliance system according to the Global Compliance Programme. We will collaborate with peak organisations to improve workers lives"
Which doesn't initially seem to mean much, until they expand it out to say:
"We have an ethical sourcing policy which we expect all our suppliers to adhere to.  Alongside Woolworths in Australia, we audit own brand factories based on considerations such as human rights and labour practices.  We will build on our audit and compliance practice to ensure our supply chain accords with global best practice.
That suggests to me that their 'home brand' fish food is likely formulated in a facility with good labour practices, but doesn't say anything about the conditions on the boats or fish farms other than that they will work on it.  Given that forced labour is very common in these sectors I think it is very unlikely that Countdown Home Brand fish food is free of forced and child labour.  I would not recommend buying it.

Sera and Tetra
The websites of Sera and Tetra showed that they displayed sustainability statements which indicated some degree of concern for the human rights of their direct employees and/or their surrounding communities.  I contacted them to ask about their policies in terms of human rights in the sourcing of their fish food: neither replied.  I wouldn't buy from them as I have no confidence their products will be free of the severe human rights abuses common in the fish meal and seafood meal industries.

Vitapet, Aqua One, Nutrafin and Hikari
I could find no statements about human rights or related ethical issues on the websites of Vitapet, Aqua One, Nutrafin or Hikari.  I think it is most unlikely that they are making significant progress in the difficult work of eliminating human rights abuses from their fish supply chain without telling us about it.  I would not buy from any of these companies as I think it is extremely unlikely their products or child and slave labour free.

Read on to learn about reptile food or jump back to either fish food or cat and dog food.

Reptile food

Whether or not reptile food contains fish depends a lot on the reptile it's for: food for turtles  always seems to contain fish or seafood of some kind whereas food for other reptiles may or may not.  If you have a turtle, you'll need to stick to the brands recommended below; for other reptiles you may be able to use other brands, but check the label first to be sure they're fish and seafood free.

From various pet food sites, it seems the dominant brands are Hartz, Tetra, Reptile One, Nutrafin, Jurassi-Diet and Flukers.  I have not contacted any of these brands or their parent companies - my opinion is based solely on publicly available information on their website.  From this, the only brand I recommend is Hartz.

Wardley
Wardley is the brand used by Hartz for their reptile food range (which includes hermit crab food).  Hartz has a detailed statement on human rights in their supply chain on their website.  They do not state where they source any fish from but they do describe their standards of engagement with suppliers:
  • Evaluating supply chain risks: Hartz conducts an extensive auditing process when a supplier seeks to become a supply chain partner with Hartz. The applicant must prepare and submit an extensive survey of its business operations, including its labor practices. Our Standards of Engagement specifically make clear that slavery or forced labor, and human trafficking, can have no place in any part of Hartz’s supply chain.
  • Auditing suppliers: Hartz conducts audits of our supply chain suppliers, both when a supplier is first engaged and periodically thereafter, which audits can be unannounced.
  • Supplier confirmation: Hartz requires its supply chain partners to confirm that products they supply to Hartz were produced in compliance with Hartz’s Standards of Engagement.
  • Accountability: Hartz will take action against supply chain suppliers who fail to meet our Standards of Engagement, including without limitation termination of the business relationship.
These terms seem sufficient to me: Hartz actively checks on an ongoing basis whether their suppliers are free of forced labour and they appear to apply these standards throughout their supply chain.  Hartz products are manufactured in the USA (and likely use fish farmed/caught in the USA), so they do not provide jobs to our neighbours in low-income countries; however they are still a good choice as they are extremely likely to be child and slave labour free.

In New Zealand Wardley reptile sticks, turtle food and turtle treats seem to be widely available from pet shops.  Their range also includes hermit crab food that you can sometimes find on TradeMe or other online retailers.

Tetra

The Tetra website sustainability page includes the statement "Tetra takes its social responsibility in many ways. Be it by setting up aquariums in schools and nurseries, our long-standing support of the Sea Life aquariums, by making donations to charitable institutions or by conducting health days for our employees."  There is nothing there to suggest their sense of social responsibility extends to the treatment of workers in their fish supply chain.  I wouldn't buy from them as I have no confidence their products will be free of the severe human rights abuses common in the fish meal and seafood meal industries.

Reptile One, Nutrafin, Jurassi-Diet and Flukers
I couldn't find any suggestion on the websites of Reptile One, Nutrafin, Jurassi-Diet or Flukers that they made an effort to eliminate child or slave labour from the fish and seafood in their supply chain.  With the exception of Reptile One, these brands also make fish-free products.  These should be fine from a worker rights perspective as I'm fairly sure they are all made in countries with strong labour laws.  However any products from these brands that contain fish and/or seafood are extremely unlikely to be child and slave labour free.

That's a lot of information!  However, you don't need to remember it's all: just download this pdf where I've got it all summarised.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1o-LjrNFWOrPwH7dkQIMZ_fYDMvtnkBhs
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)
And if you want to read any section again, look for the clickable section header below:

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