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• The San Jose Mercury News reports that “garlic giant” Christopher Ranch of Gilroy, California, is considering a lawsuit against Netflix because of an episode in a documentary series “about food industry scandals that accuses the company of using unfair business practices and marketing garlic peeled by Chinese prison labor.”

Here’s how the story frames the issue:

“The ‘Rotten’ series describes its ‘Garlic Breath’ episode, the third of six, as ‘a tale of betrayal and revenge’ that ‘bubbles between America and China’s garlic commerce relationship’ … In the episode, a lawyer for some Chinese exporters recruits a couple of small New Mexico growers to complain to U.S. regulators about Southern California importer Harmoni International Spice and Christopher Ranch, described as one of Harmoni’s biggest buyers.

“The complaint accuses Harmoni of colluding with Christopher Ranch to block regulatory reviews of Harmoni’s Chinese imports while slapping competing Chinese imports with pricey duties aimed at protecting U.S. growers from foreign ‘dumping’ of under-priced product. Joining the New Mexico growers in the complaint was a Chinese garlic wholesaler who videotaped what he said was Chinese prisoners being forced to peel garlic for U.S. consumers with their teeth because their fingernails were so worn.”

Ken Christopher, Christopher Ranch’s executive vice president, said, “We felt like our reputation has been dragged completely through the mud for the sake of entertainment,” adding that his family-owned company “is proud of our commitment to our customers and community to be both ethical and transparent regarding our business operations.”

The producers of the documentary say they stand by their reporting.


• Albertsons said last week that sales of its private label organic line, O Organics, has passed the $1 billion sales mark. The company has announced that it plans to grow the line by 50 percent. expanding the SKU count from 1,000 to 1,500.
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