Huge Scandals Aldi Might Never Recover From

Aldi is generally thought to have a squeaky-clean
image, but the German grocery chain has experienced its fair share of drama. From bogus products, to labor issues, and
even murder, here are the biggest scandals that Aldi has found itself wrapped up in over
the years. So here’s a rather strange set of implications
regarding the bargain-priced seafood you buy at not just Aldi, but Walmart as well. It could be funding North Korea’s nuclear
weapons program. That’s right, your fish sticks could lead
to a nuclear war. No need to head to the bomb shelter just yet,
though, as it’s a little more complicated than you might expect. Like so many other things Americans buy, a
lot of our seafood comes from China. In order to cut costs, Chinese seafood processing
plants employ a number of North Korean workers who, in turn, hand over as much as 70 percent
of their earnings to the North Korean government. Thus, the seafood that is sold to Aldi and
Walmart and then bought by Americans could be, in a bizarre way, inadvertently subsidizing
North Korea’s funds for their missile development program. It’s actually a federal crime for products
made by North Koreans to be imported to the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s
not happening simply because of the sheer amount of fish generically packaged and shipped
out. It’s estimated North Korea could be bringing
in as much as $500 million a year by loaning its workers to China. Besides possibly aiding North Korea’s missile
program, the North Korean workers labor in what has been called “modern day slavery”
conditions. Even though Aldi isn’t the only one associated
with these products, the controversy definitely doesn’t make them look good. Protests have even been staged outside of
Aldi supermarkets calling it the, quote, “ultimate betrayal of American trust.” Regardless of cows and horses both being hoofed
animals, people generally tend to shy away from eating the latter. So when customers were misled into believing
the frozen food they were buying contained 100 percent beef, when in fact it was actually
part or all horse meat, well… people weren’t happy. Back in 2013, news broke that Aldi’s frozen
meat lasagna and spaghetti bolognese contained horse meat and not just a little bit of horse
meat either. Tests were done on the products that revealed
the impostor beef was between 30 and 100 percent horse. It turned out that while Aldi was under the
impression it was buying its beef from suppliers in France, that wasn’t the case. The company eventually learned some of that
bogus meat came from Romania. An Aldi spokesperson had this to say: “This is completely unacceptable and like
other affected companies, we feel angry and let down by our supplier. If the label says beef, our customers expect
it to be beef.” To be clear, the scandal only impacted stores
in the EU, and none of the mislabeled meat ever made it into American stores. And to be completely fair, Aldi wasn’t the
only one caught selling horsemeat. UK grocery giants Tesco and Lidl also had
the product on their shelves. It was served by hospital and school caterer
Compass Group, and even Nestle recalled their beef ready-made meals. DNA tests came back positive for horse in
countries from the UK to Norway to Germany, making it a problem on a massive scale. “(chomp)” Aldi employees have complained about grueling
work conditions before, but it’s a whole other ballgame to claim that your employment with
the company was basically slave labor. In 2017, two Korean nationals claimed that
while working at an Aldi supermarket in Australia, they were, quote, “treated like slaves,” and
were paid little to nothing of the money they had worked for. The labor-hire firm they were hired through
provided transportation costs, which was taken out of the men’s pay, but they claimed that
the $5,000 owed to each of them was never paid out. The man from the firm — who they knew as
“Jimmy” — had promised them their money, then disappeared. The claim was ultimately thrown out, because
the pair couldn’t prove they actually had a direct relationship with the firm. As for Aldi’s role in the scandal, the company
largely denied the claims but said an investigation was being done and that it, quote, “takes
all allegations of misconduct relating to our contractors seriously…” It’s not just store employees who have made
claims of being mistreated by Aldi, but the workers who make its products as well. The company came under fire in 2017 after
allegations that the Bangladeshi workers who made some of the clothing sold in the supermarket
chain were being paid, quote, “poverty wages.” A representative for Aldi said its suppliers
were required to abide by, quote, “national laws and Aldi’s social standards in production.” Is that an appropriate response, or should
they do a little more to make sure their products are responsibly sourced? Of all the things on the list of reasons that
might cause a customer to never return to a specific business location, witnessing a
murder is probably pretty high up there. Shoppers at an Aldi store in North Yorkshire,
England were unfortunately the witnesses to a brutal and undoubtedly bloody crime that
took place just four days before Christmas in 2017. Jodie Willsher, described by one of the store’s
managing directors as a, quote, “much-loved and popular colleague,” was a single mother
and employee with Aldi when Neville Hord entered the store and stabbed her to death in front
of customers. Hord was bitter over his breakup with Willsher’s
mother and blamed Jodie for the split. He had reportedly planned the attack for weeks,
accumulating knives, an ax, and a crossbow with the full intention of carrying out the
public execution to cause “the maximum pain, horror, shock, and trauma.” He was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years
in prison. While the murder was clearly no fault of Aldi’s,
horrific crimes are never good for business and such a thing could easily leave shoppers
with an uneasy feeling and send them looking for a new grocery store. While social media may have opened up a new
frontier for how brands reach their customers and market products, it has some major drawbacks,
too. Any new product that a brand rolls out these
days is at the judgement of social media and hoo-boy, does social media ever judge harshly. And? No one’s afraid to speak up. In May 2019, Aldi announced that some of its
stores in Great Britain would be carrying square-shaped sausage patties, tweeting, “Breakfast just became a whole lot easier… Will you be trying our Sausedge?” It’s more practical than the cylinder shaped
sausages, which have a tendency to roll off the plate or out of a breakfast sandwich,
and don’t quite fill out a sandwich as well as you might like. The grocery store chain even decided to call
them “sausedges” to be cute. Harmless enough, right? Nope. Social media immediately jumped on Aldi and
said the company was taking credit for Scotland’s square Lorne sausages. Some angry folks even derided the company
for cultural appropriation, because they take their sausages very, very seriously. Maybe Aldi should just stick to boring round
sausages from now on. It’s not just Aldi’s square sausages that
have backfired on them, but their Australia Day celebratory T-shirts as well. In 2014, Aldi decided to do what brands around
the world do anytime a country has a national holiday coming up capitalize on it. The grocery store chain advertised a series
of T-shirts that would be available in its Australian stores that correlated with Australia
Day. One T-shirt in particular did not sit especially
well with Twitter, though, and it wasn’t long before folks were calling Aldi’s shirt racist
and demanding that it be removed from shelves. The shirt in question read, quote, “Australia
Est. 1788.” Critics of Aldi argued that the shirt ignored
the Indigenous population who had inhabited the continent long before the Brits showed
up. Like so many other squabbles on social media
though, some argued the outburst was nothing more than a PC overreaction. But it’s worth noting that Australia Day is
massively polarizing, with tens of thousands of people gathering every year to protest
the celebration of a completely controversial British invasion and the subsequent suppression
of the indigenous peoples. Unsurprisingly, Aldi removed the shirt. A wage theft lawsuit is never good for an
employer’s reputation and can potentially cost millions of dollars to clean up. Central New York Aldi employees prompted a
nationwide lawsuit when they accused the grocery store chain of unpaid wages in 2016 and took
legal action to ensure they got the money they felt Aldi owed them. The lawsuit brought against Aldi by store
managers claimed that they were doing much of the same tasks as hourly store employees,
but those employees were getting overtime pay. Meanwhile, the store managers were working
60 to 70 hours a week and getting an average salary of $80,000 without overtime pay. News of the lawsuit spread throughout Aldi’s
American workforce and around 360 employees eventually signed on as clients. While Aldi had initially argued that it didn’t
have to pay its managers overtime, it’s sorta difficult for a company to ignore 360 disgruntled
employees and a heck of a lot of bad publicity, and in 2019 Aldi agreed to a settlement. In total, Aldi settled the lawsuit for a hefty
$9.8 million with some store managers receiving up to $20,000 in back pay. That’s some serious overtime pay and a lesson
that Aldi likely won’t soon forget. Keeping an eye on employee performance is
one thing, but secretly installing hidden video cameras in staff locker rooms is over
the line. In 2013, news broke that a store detective
who was hired by Aldi to keep an eye out for shoplifters was also ordered by store supervisors
to spy on Aldi staff. The store detective who stayed anonymous had
this to say: “I had to say if an employee was working too
slowly, engaged in an affair, and reveal other private details such as their financial situation.” Aldi didn’t confess to the spying, but somewhat
sidestepped its denial of the allegations. While the company said such spying was never
ordered, a corporate consultant for Aldi said it was, quote, “not implausible” that individual
supervisors at a store had carried out the spying tactics on employees. Unfortunately, this claim wasn’t the only
instance of Aldi supervisors secretly spying on people. A year earlier, a report surfaced that at
some Aldi stores in Germany, managers were using video cameras not only to monitor workers,
but to peek up the dresses of female shoppers. The company said that such practices were
forbidden and that, quote, “appropriate disciplinary consequences” would be carried out. Finally, Aldi isn’t the only grocery chain
hit by scandals. Another is… Aldi? Yes, there are actually two Aldi chains, and
the other one which is known in Europe as Aldi North also made the news in a very unusual
way. Drug cartels will use any means necessary
to hide their illegal cargo and it’s actually not that uncommon for food shipments to be
used for smuggling. But Aldi North seems to have particularly
bad luck in getting shipments clearly meant for a very different destination, and has
ended up with bananas that have been used in drug trafficking on not one, not two, but
at least three occasions. In 2014, the company learned that 140 kilos
was hidden within its stock of bananas. Then, in 2015, the same thing happened again
when bananas packed with approximately $6 million worth were shipped to 14 different
Aldi North supermarkets around Berlin. At the time, the 386-kilo stash was the largest
amount seized in any single operation in the city. That shipment was small potatoes, however,
to what would show up on Aldi North’s loading dock in 2019. Six Aldi North stores in Rostock, Germany
discovered in April 2019 that their bananas contained nearly half a ton with a value of
almost $28 million. It was understandably a headache for the company,
and an Aldi North spokesperson confirmed that the banana shipment that came from Latin America
affected the logistics center and numerous store branches though further details were
not provided. While Aldi North didn’t confirm what it planned
to do with the bananas, it’s probably safe to assume they weren’t sold at a discounted
price to the public. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
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