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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2010
4:43 PM

CONTACT: Green America

Todd Larsen: 202-872-5307

Is There Child Slave Labor in Your Child's Halloween Candy?

New Chocolate Candy Scorecard Rates All the Major Chocolate Makers; Hershey is Dead Last for its Failure to Take Action on Child Labor

WASHINGTON - October 19 - Good news for parents this Halloween: It’s easier than ever to avoid buying chocolate from Hershey, the largest U.S. chocolate company. Hershey fails to ensure that child labor is not part of its chocolate. Two major reports this September called out Hershey’s failure and the prevalence of egregious child labor, forced labor and trafficking abuses in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana where Hershey’s sources much of its cocoa.

Just in time for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays, the independent, non-profit Green America has outlined seven ways to find and give Fair Trade chocolate people can feel good about, and take constructive actions to get Hershey’s to go Fair Trade.

1 . Use the new “Get Child Labor Out of Your Chocolates Scorecard to shop online. Among the “A” ranked alternatives to Hershey chocolate are Alter Eco, Coco-Zen, Divine, Equal Exchange, Shama, Sjaak’s, Sweet Earth Organic and Theo Chocolate, all of which are Fair Trade. All of Hershey’s competitors have some form of labor certification for their chocolate, leaving Hershey as the only company on the list without one. Confused by what all of those certification symbols mean? The Scorecard includes a short overview of the most widely used labels and explains what they mean.

2 . Shop for Fair Trade chocolate locally. You can find dozens of locations around the US.

3 . Fair Trade Your Halloween. You can hand out bite-sized Fair Trade chocolates and let parents of Trick-or-Treaters know why Fair Trade matters. In addition, thousands of families across the US are taking part in local “reverse trick-or-treating” to educate other families about the abuse of children in the cocoa production.

4 . Help raise awareness by holding a screening in your home of “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” Filmmakers Miki Mistrati and U. Robin Romano traveled to cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire and what they found was dark. Few improvements have been made on the ground and egregious labor rights abuses continue, years after major chocolate companies committed to ending this exploitation.

5 . Take Green America’s new action targeting Hershey. Don’t just avoid Hershey chocolates; let this company know what you think. Send your message to a Hershey’s executive now.

6 . Take action on Facebook. You can start by “liking” Green America’s latest posts about Hershey, so your friends can see them. You can also go to Hershey’s Facebook page and leave yourown comments for them and their customers to see. Every few days, Hershey’s posts a new question designed to keep up the chatter on their page, constantly exposing their brand to more eyeballs. That’s where you can add your comments about expecting Hershey to be more responsible.

7 . Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You’ll find all the background information that you need for your letter to the editor by downloading the “Time to Raise the Bar” report.

Green America Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Todd Larsen, said: “We understand that parents who may become aware of the concerns regarding Hershey chocolate and abusive child labor may feel powerless to do anything about it. That’s why we want them to know that there are constructive actions they can take to make a difference. While Hershey pays its CEO $8 million annually, the company is doing little to end the practice of forced child labor in cocoa-growing regions, where many children are not paid for their labor and are abused. This corporate giant is hoping that parents will throw up their hands and just go along as they always have in the past. Our message is simple: You can be sure that you are not putting child slave labor in your child’s Halloween bag or those of other children.”

 

BACKGROUND

On September 30, 2010, The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University released its fourth annual report on Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The report underscores the lack of progress that is being made by voluntary programs adopted by the cocoa industry to address the problems of child and forced labor in West Africa.

In response, national non-profits Global Exchange, Green America, International Labor Rights Forum, and Oasis USA called on Hershey, the largest US chocolate company, to take action to end child and forced labor in its supply chain and to adopt Fair Trade Certified cocoa.

Available online at http://childlabor-payson.org, the report identifies the ongoing exploitation of labor rights in the cocoa sector including the worst forms of child labor, forced labor and trafficking. New research related to the trafficking of young workers from Burkina Faso and Mali found that:

  • Côte d’Ivoire is the predominant destination for trafficked and migrant cocoa workers;
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents moved to cocoa farms without their natural parents or guardians;
  • Virtually all respondents experienced the worst forms of child labor including: verbal, physical and sexual harassment and restrictions of their freedom of movement; and
  • Virtually all respondents performed hazardous work including land clearing and burning, carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides, and using machetes, among other dangerous activities.

Also released in September, the report "Time to Raise the Bar: the Real CSR Report for the Hershey Company" (issued by Global Exchange, Green America, International Labor Rights Forum, and Oasis USA) found that the Hershey corporation was the laggard in the cocoa industry regarding monitoring its supply chain.

The report also found that Hershey lacked transparency and traceability when it came to its cocoa sourcing, as well as meaningful programs to address labor violations in the cocoa-growing communities of West Africa, from where it sources. As the dominant chocolate company in the US, the report calls on Hershey to “Raise the Bar” and adopt Fair Trade Certification for its best selling bar by 2012, and all of its top selling chocolate products by 2022.”

“Time to Raise the Bar: The Real CSR Report for the Hershey Company”

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Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 and known until January 1, 2009 as "Co-op America."  Green America’s mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.


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