Halloween Horror Story: The Child Slavery Behind Chocolate
Not everything about Halloween candy is sweet: Most major companies use cocoa beans harvested by thousands of child slaves in West Africa. According to a recent post on GOOD,
These children are performing this work for the benefit of most of the mainstream chocolate providers in the United States. A report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. Many of them have been taken from their families and sold as servants. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations, since they don't own them. This group includes Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the U.S. division of Cadbury. Collectively, they are responsible for pretty much every snack-size candy bar available in stores this Halloween.
Some of these companies — including Nestle, Mars, and Kraft — have recently pledged to purchase fair-trade cocoa (although Hershey has been slow to follow). But, as Mother Jones notes, these companies had already made a similar pledge in 2001, without yielding the desired results.
So as children trek from door to door tonight and fill their bags with sweets, it’s worth taking a moment to consider other children who are forced to work on cocoa farms — and to demand that candy companies take decisive action to sever their ties to slavery.