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Whole Foods cuts ties with prison labor after backlash


On the heels of lackluster quarterly sales, job cuts and an overcharging scandal, Whole Foods is getting another round of bad publicity, and this time it’s about prison labor.

The retailer announced that it will stop offering products made by prisoners next year. The company specifically said it will stop selling tilapia sourced from Quixotic Farming and cheese distributed by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, two private companies that partner with Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI), a division of Colorado's Department of Corrections.

The retailer came under pressure last month from prison reform advocacy groups protesting the wages earned by those behind bars.

Michael Silverman, a Whole Foods spokesman, said in a statement, "One of our core values as a company is supporting our communities. We felt that supporting suppliers who found a way to be part of paid, rehabilitative work being done by inmates would help people get back on their feet and eventually become contributing members of society."

Whole Foods was also recently hurt by bad publicity when New York City officials found it was overcharging customers.

The company announced job cuts last week after a series of disappointing quarterly reports this year. Its stock has plummeted more than 40% within the last six months.

The company has been facing intense competition from other retailers ramping up their organic offerings. The company plans to try to appeal to a broader audience by opening a new slate of budget-friendly stores called 365.

Read more about Whole Foods use of prison labor by clicking here.

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