Eco Blog

STILL Time to Raise the Bar: HERSEY

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 in Social Responsibility
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As another Halloween approaches and parents think about buying chocolate as “treats” for children, here is something to consider: The chocolate you buy could be tainted with child labor.

Monday, September 19th marks the ten-year anniversary of the signing of the Harkin-Engel Protocol — an agreement by the country’s largest chocolate companies to put an end to forced child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa by 2005.

Ten years later, not enough progress has been made.  Hundreds of thousands of children are still forced to work under abusive conditions for long hours on cocoa farms in West Africa, while others are victims of trafficking and forced labor.

The largest chocolate manufacturer in the United States, Hershey, lags behind its competitors in eliminating these abuses from its cocoa supply chain. What’s more, news recently surfaced that Hershey has been exploiting student guestworkers here in the US in one of its packing facilities.

Some of Hershey’s competitors, including Mars and Nestle, have committed to start sourcing cocoa that is independently certified to comply with labor rights standards.

I urge Hershey — the most iconic chocolate company in the US — to protect workers from bean to bar and certify its chocolate as Fair Trade, ensuring that forced child labor is removed from its chocolate bars, its kisses, and its peanut butter cups.

In the meantime, I’ll be handing out Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate to my trick-or-treaters this Halloween and I encourage others to do the same.

Other companies have read Green America’s original report on Hershey’s practices and have increased their commitment to Fair Trade – but still no commitment from Hershey.

In the second alternative corporate social responsibility report for the Hershey Company: STILL Time to Raise the Bar: The REAL CSR report for The Hershey Company [PDF]. This report highlights Hershey’s ongoing failure to trace its supply chain and stop child labor.  Hershey is the laggard in the industry – being the only major chocolate company that has failed to adopt ANY third party certifications for its cocoa.

Please assist Green America’s campaign to bring awareness within your community.