Associated British Foods has been slammed as the least ethical food and drink company in a report by charity Oxfam.

The charity’s ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign, which claims that a ‘veil of secrecy is hiding the human cost in top food and drink company supply chains’, gave ABF a score of just 19%. Kellogg’s and General Mills were joint second worst, on 23%, while Nestlé came top with 54%.

Oxfam devised its survey to inform consumers about the social and environmental impacts of global food giants. It used seven different criteria to rank the companies, including the transparency of their supply chain, their treatment of workers and farmers, women’s rights, management of land and water resources, and policies to reduce climate change. 

ABF, whose brands include Silverspoon, Amoy and Kingsmill, did especially badly on the transparency of its supply chain. Few of its brands could show how they do business with suppliers and enforce ethical standards, Oxfam said. Tea company Twinings, commended for its commitment to a living wage for workers, was one of only a few ABF-owned brands to do well.

The charity is hoping consumers will use social media to put pressure on manufacturers. Oxfam CEO Barbara Stocking said: “We are piling pressure on the big 10 food and drink companies to play their part in providing solutions to the scandal which sees hundreds of millions go hungry despite there being more than enough food in the world to feed everyone.”

An ABF spokesman said: “The idea that ABF would use a ‘veil of secrecy’ in order to hide the ‘human cost’ of its supply chain is simply ridiculous. We treat local producers, communities and the environment with the utmost respect. The company has worked hard for many years to ensure its suppliers meet the highest ethical standards. Where issues are found, they are appropriately resolved.”