PureCircle stevia, China
PureCircle says it has proof the sweeteners were not produced through forced labor

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said effective June 1 imported stevia extracts and their derivatives produced by PureCircle, Ltd. in China were to be detained at all U.S. ports of entry. Information obtained by the C.B.P. indicated the products were made with the use of convict labor. It is illegal to import into the United States goods made in whole or in part by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor and indentured labor.

PureCircle said the information given to the C.B.P. was inaccurate.

“We have confirmed that our product is not produced by the company in question, Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Group Baoanzhao Agricultural and Trade, L.L.C., including the shipments being withheld by U.S. Customs,” PureCircle said. “We have submitted relevant documentation of this, including independent third-party verification to C.B.P., and are working with them to correct the inaccurate information and to expedite the release of our shipments.”

PureCircle said independent auditors have certified that the company complies with the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit, which requires that “there is no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labor.”

PureCircle, which has its global headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, grows stevia plants on farms in China, Kenya and Paraguay. It has an extraction plant in China. PureCircle had sales of $127.4 million in its last fiscal year.