U.S. investigators are conducting a preliminary inquiry into forced child labor used in an organic and fair-trade cotton program that supplies the American lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, a federal law enforcement official confirmed this week.
Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, Limited Brands (LTD) Inc., said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it continues “to take this matter very seriously as we do not tolerate child labor.” Those practices were disclosed in a Dec. 15 Bloomberg News report about the program the company buys from in Burkina Faso. Fairtrade International, the Bonn-based organization that certified the cotton, said in a statement last week that it has “prioritised further training on child labour and child protection for its members” beginning in early 2012.
At the same time, both Fairtrade and the company have disputed elements of the story. Bloomberg News stands by its reporting.