Consumers have taken to social media to call for a Christmas season boycott of prawns sold at Woolworths, Coles and Aldi sourced from a Thai company at the centre of a child and forced labour scandal.
The calls for a boycott came as Coles issued an updated statement on Tuesday saying its frozen prawns did not come from the factory at the centre of the scandal.
People took to Facebook and Twitter to voice their outrage over revelations that forced labour, including child labour, was being used at a prawn peeling factory owned by major seafood supplier Thai Union.
But Australians may have to run the risk of eating prawns shelled by children and people locked into factories as the Uniting Church, an adviser to the retailers, played down the need for a recall, saying any boycott or recall would cause major financial hardship for workers in the Thai factories.
On Monday Fairfax Media revealed Australian retailers Aldi, Woolworths and Coles had been caught up in the scandal that has shocked the world and embarrassed Thailand's military government.
An investigation by Associated Press found hundreds of workers at the company's factories working under poor conditions with some, mainly from Myanmar, locked inside or otherwise unable to leave the factory.
Children were observed working the production line, including one so small they needed to stand on a stool to reach the produce, and witnesses told the news wire service they worked under the threat of violence.
Brett John Long wrote to Woolworths' Facebook account to ask what the retailer was going to do about the products already on its shelves supplied by Thai Union.
"In light of recent confirmed reports of slaves being used in the manufacturing process of seafood products will you cut ties with these suppliers and never stock their products again?"
Liz Lopez also called for Woolworths to stop supplying Thai Union produce: "I look forward to Woolies cutting ties with Thai Union. No child labour in my prawns, thank you very much."
Customers also asked Aldi to cancel its supply agreements with Thai Union.
"Hi Aldi... can you tell us what you are doing to ensure your prawns aren't sourced through slave labour?" asked Erik Manjushri Denison.
The allegations have stunned Thailand's military government, which fears huge losses in the country's multibillion-dollar seafood export industry.
Regime leader Prayuth Chan-ocha vowed to punish officials who failed to crackdown on forced labour in the country's seafood processing factories.
"We are dealing with the issue, aren't we? Arrests are underway," Mr Prayuth told reporters.
"All military and police officers have their duties … if they do not fulfil their duties they will be guilty," he said.
Police have called an urgent meeting to consider their response to the Associated Press investigation.
Kornchai Klayklueng, head of the Thai police's anti-human trafficking division, admitted some factories using forced labour might be operating under the radar of law enforcement.
But he said multiple arrests had been made in the industry in recent months after the gathering of intelligence on human trafficking.
The investigation in Thailand and customer complaints came as the retailers scrambled to identify if any of their products came from the Gig Peeling factory at the centre of the scandal.
"Coles sources some frozen prawns from Thai Union via an Australian agent, who has confirmed that the prawns supplied to Coles are not sourced from the prawn peeling facility named in media reports," the spokesman said.
"Notwithstanding these assurances, Coles has initiated an investigation of our supply chain to ensure that our ethical compliance program is being properly followed," the spokesman added.
Woolworths and Aldi are still conducting investigations after confirming on Monday Thai Union was a supplier. Aldi claims it does not source prawns from Thai Union but does source a range of seafood from the scandalised company.
Greenpeace campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said supermarkets should train staff to identify tainted Thai Union products so customers could make a choice.
"I think calling for a boycott sends the wrong message, but customers should have the choice," Mr Pelle said. He added there was scope for law reform in Australia to ensure there was transparency in product labelling about sourcing.
Meanwhile, Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania Synod director justice and international mission Mark Zirnsak said a boycott would cause more financial hardship to the workers from Myanmar at the centre of the scandal.
Mr Zirnsak said there appeared to be grounds for compensation for the workers from Thai Union, much like in the Sherrin case in 2012, where the children found to be working on the production line of the famous AFL footballs were compensated. Sherrin was also forced to recall 450,000 footballs after a public backlash.