The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: 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


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 Cote 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
Cote 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."


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,
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:

  • Cote 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

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"

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.