With the chocolate hearts of Valentine’s Day behind us and the Cadbury eggs of Easter ahead we should all consider where our beloved chocolate is coming from and how it is being made. There are few who don’t enjoy the smooth taste of chocolate melting on his or her tongue, but the truth is that much of the chocolate that we consume today is a product of child labor and slavery.
For the past few years, CNN’s Freedom Project (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/) has been investigating the use of child labor on cocoa plantations that are utilized by some of the world’s largest chocolate companies. The project’s quest began in 2012 when they aired the documentary, “Chocolate’s Child Slaves.” This report takes you directly to the Ivory Coast, the producer of 40% of the world’s cocoa supply and the location of over 200,000 child laborers, and shows what life is like for the plantation workers. The filmmakers chose this topic, not only because chocolate is so widely consumed, but because the entire chocolate industry signed a protocol in 2001 that would eliminate child labor in the cocoa fields by 2008. The film proves that there was little to no reduction in child slavery on the Ivory Coast after the deadline of the protocol. See the video below for a glimpse into the life of a child slave.
Response from the chocolate companies:
Ferrero, who makes Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, and Kinder eggs, said that they hope to eradicate child labor by the year 2020.
Hershey pledged $10 million to improve West African cocoa farming by educating farmers on trading and ending child labor
Nestlé partnered with the Fair Labor Association to investigate the child labor issue by mapping which plantations their cocoa was coming from and whether there were children working at those plantations. This allows the FLA to educate and sanction those who are not in compliance with the law.
CNN followed up with Nestlé on February 27th to take a look at their progress with their initiative in a documentary called “Cocoa-nomics.” Although there is still much to be changed, Nestlé continues to assess their role in the child labor issue. While there are still children working on the cocoa plantations, the company is working to educate locals and farmers.
What you can do:
One way to make sure that your chocolate is not made by children is to purchase fair trade products. For a list of fair trade chocolate companies go to http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa.
As we put chocolate bunnies into Easter baskets and foil covered chocolates into plastic eggs, let’s remember that all children are not as fortunate as ours. The cocoa that makes our chocolate does not have to be harvested by children, so let’s work towards making our chocolate child labor free.
–Jamie (Stop-It Intern)