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Food and drink news May/June 2020

May and June's news and events in ethical food and drink.

Harrogate Spring bought by Danone

Bottled water brand Harrogate Spring has been bought by French food multinational Danone. The sale means that Harrogate Spring’s score nearly halves, dropping from 11 to 6.5.

Danone makes half of its money from dairy products like Activia and plant-based products like Alpro and Provamel. It already owns Badoit, Evian and Volvic. Danone is also the world’s second biggest baby milk company and has been criticised for its irresponsible marketing of infant formula in breach of international standards.

However, our guide to bottled water suggested that you ditch bottled water in favour of tap water in refillable bottles.

Is Lily's Kitchen still ethical?

Lily's Kitchen, the popular organic cat and dog food brand, has been taken over by Swiss multinational Nestlé. Nestlé is the largest food company in the world, and well-known target of the Baby Milk Action boycott.

So how does this takeover affect Lily’s Kitchen's ethical score?

Due to its acquisition by Nestlé in April 2020, Lily's Kitchen now loses marks in our rating system in a number of new categories in which Nestle already picked up negative marks, including palm oil, supply chain management, animal testing, and political activities.

Lily's Kitchen have asked us to clarify that it does not itself actively use palm oil, engage in animal testing, or have issues with its supply chain and political activities. The change in ranking is due to activities at the parent company which have been criticised.

Before its takeover by Nestlé it scored 12.5 out of 14. Unfortunately Lily's Kitchen now scores 0.5 out of 14 (as of April 2020).

Lily’s Kitchen was previously one of our Recommended brands but is sadly now one of our ‘Brands to avoid’. Check out our guides to ethical cat food and ethical dog food for the Best Buys and Recommended brands.

image: billboard with when did you last kill an animal written on it and photo of calf piglet and lamb

Viva! Billboard campaign

Billboards, from Viva!, asking people ‘When did you last kill an animal?’ and ‘What’s your favourite animal to eat?’ have now been seen at 60 busy bus stops and other billboard locations across eight towns and cities in the East Midlands.

Now Viva! want to expand the campaign across the whole of the UK, when the time is right. If you would like to see vegan billboards in your area, you can donate to the campaign.

Oxfam petition delivered to Lidl

A petition with 20,000 signatures urging Lidl to do more to protect the workers behind its food was presented to the company’s head office by Oxfam campaigners dressed as giant fruit and vegetables.

The petition is part of Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes campaign which aims to improve the lives of the millions of people around the world producing food for supermarkets, many of whom are trapped in poverty and face brutal working conditions.

In the UK, the campaign is aimed at the six major UK supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl.

Lidl is currently bottom of Oxfam’s scorecard which assesses the supermarkets policies and practices on human rights in their supply chains.

Lidl is the new laggard amongst the UK supermarkets (scored 9% on Oxfam’s Supermarkets Scorecard), replacing Aldi – the previous lowest scorer – which jumped from a score of 1% to 19% following Oxfam's campaigning last year.

It seems the fastest-growing companies in the UK market – the discounters – have been the slowest to make meaningful commitments. With 10,000 stores in 32 countries in Europe and North America, Lidl (like Aldi) has significant power – and responsibility – to tackle worker exploitation.

Check out the scorecard where you can also send a message to the six supermarkets.

See how Lidl compares to the other supermarkets across all our categories in our ethical shopping guide for supermarkets.

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