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In Opinion

PSC coordinated a letter from John Austin, Geoffrey Bindman, Sarah Colborne, Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Bob Crow – General Secretary, RMT, Jill Evans MEP, Pat Gaffney, General Secretary, Pax Christi, Rev Canon Garth Hewitt, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert MEP, Ken Loach, Miriam Margolyes, Kika Markham, Karma Nabulsi, Hilary Rose, Steven Rose, Salman Abu Sitta, Andy Slaughter MP to Dalton Philips, Chief Executive of Morrisons. 

“We are concerned that dates labelled ‘Product of Israel’, destined to be sold as Morrisons own-label dates, were found in Tomer settlement. According to the Electronic Intifada article, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-deas/uk-supermarket-sells-fruit-illegal-settlement-made-israel, Morrisons claimed that produce was simply being packed there. But there are no date-growing areas inside Israel which are close to Tomer – whilst there are many illegal Israeli settlements nearby which do produce dates. You will also appreciate that ethical consumers, who support justice and international law, choose not to buy goods which bring profit to illegal settlements, and rely on Morrison’s adherence to the UK labelling guidelines to avoid supporting illegal settlements. Any activity in Tomer settlement, at whatever stage of the food chain, allows money spent by consumers in Britain to flow to this illegal settlement.

The UN Human Rights Council has just released its report from the Mission which studied Israeli settlements. One of the Mission’s key recommendations was that Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the  settlements respect human rights throughout their operations. The Mission recommends that the Human Rights Council Working Group on Business and Human Rights be seized of this matter. (para 117)

Whilst other supermarkets are being hit by the scandal of horsemeat being wrongly sold as beef, Morrisons has prided itself on its short supply chain, and its ability to track meat from farm to plate. We are therefore sure that you understand consumer concern over the accuracy of labelling and the origin of foodstuffs, and we look forward to a speedy reply to the following questions:

  • Has Morrisons undertaken an investigation separate to Hadiklaim? Have you asked workers at the factory independently?
  • Did Morrisons pay duty on the mislabelled produce to HM Revenue and Customs at the time. If not will it do so?  How much duty does it owe?

I look forward to receiving your reply. ”

Morrison’s response is below: 

Thank you for contacting our Chief Executive, Dalton Philips, who has asked me to respond to you on his behalf, regarding your concerns relating to the sale of products from Israel.

Having spoken with my relevant colleagues within the business I am able to offer the following reassurances:

Morrisons does not source any goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (including the West Bank).  We source produce from the state of Israel and take care to ensure the integrity of origin declarations. We perform random traceability checks to give our customers confidence that food labelled ‘Produce of Israel’ has not been grown in the West Bank.

We are fully committed to upholding the rights of workers throughout our worldwide supply chain and conduct audits of suppliers in the region. Where we are alerted to breaches of our Ethical Trading Code we will take swift and appropriate action.

Thank you for your interest in Morrisons, I do hope that I have been able to clarify the matter for you and hope that this will not deter you from shopping with us in the future.