George Clooney is an ambassador for Nespresso and considered "the face" of the coffee brand

By Eric Todisco
February 26, 2020 10:58 AM
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George Clooney is addressing the recent controversy surrounding Nespresso.

The Oscar-winning actor, who is considered “the face” of the coffee brand, told Deadline he was “saddened” on Tuesday after British program Dispatches reported that Nespresso has been linked to child labor farms.

According to the outlet, reporter Anthony Barnett was given access to farms in Guatemala — the world’s 10th largest coffee producer — where Barnett said he saw children working on the farm.

“Having grown up working on a tobacco farm from the time I was 12 I’m uniquely aware of the complex issues regarding farming and child labor,” Clooney, 58, said. “That’s why I joined the Sustainability advisory board of Nespresso seven years ago along with the Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade International, and the Fair Labour Association among many others with the goal then, as it remains to this day to improve the lives of farmers.”

“We knew it was a big project when it started 7 years ago, and honestly I was surprised and saddened to see this story,” he continued. “Clearly this board and this company still have work to do. And that work will be done. I would hope that this reporter will continue to investigate these conditions and report accurately if they do not improve.”

Rich Polk/Getty Images

In a statement to PEOPLE, Nespresso said that the company, “has zero tolerance of child labour.”

“The media outlet refused to provide us with the details of the farms so that we could confirm whether they supplied Nespresso and to immediately address these allegations. However, we have launched a thorough investigation and taken a number of actions.”

“First and foremost, we have immediately stopped purchases of coffee from all farms in the region and we will not resume purchases until we are able to investigate and be assured that child labor is not being used,” the statement continued. “Through the investigation, any issues we uncover will be dealt with diligently and firm action will be taken. We will also double the number of agronomists that we have on the ground in the region and we will implement unannounced visits to check on compliance on social and labor issues.

“We will continue to do all we can to stamp child labor out. It has no place in our supply chain. We are extremely concerned by the allegations made and take them very seriously. We are making significant efforts to address child labor and protect the children in the coffee farming communities we work with, and we will continue to do so.”

Since becoming an ambassador for Nespresso, Clooney has appeared in various commercials for the brand. In 2018, he starred in a commercial titled “The Quest”, where he suited up to slay a dragon for Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer.

The year prior, he appeared in “Comin Home,” a commercial which saw the actor time-travel through some of the most iconic movies scenes, such as riding shotgun with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, in the backseat of Janet Leigh’s car before she makes a fateful turn into the Bates Motel in Psycho, and on the back of Peter Fonda’s motorcycle in Easy Rider.