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Bittersweet: Slave labor in chocolate labeled “sustainably” sourced?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Employment Law

Child labor in cocoa

According to FoodIsPower, chocolate is the Ivory Coast’s primary source of export. However, the pay of $1 per day is not enough of a living wage for adult workers. It is reported that millions of children in the Ivory Coast and Ghana work on cocoa farms. In spite of this fact, many large cocoa conglomerates claim their chocolate products are sustainably sourced.

Most workers are between the ages of 12 and 16

Children as young as 5 years old have been documented working in the cocoa fields engaged in what the United States Department of Labor terms the “Worst Forms of Child Labor.”

Slavery also exists

In some instances, children working the cocoa farms are trafficked and do not get paid at all. They are coerced to work on these cocoa farms. In Ghana, 23% of those surveyed worked without getting paid.

Chocolate/Cocoa Lawsuits target major retailers such as Nestle and others for “woke washing” and “green washing”

Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP represents plaintiffs who have brought claims on behalf of purchasers of chocolate/cocoa products, such as chocolate chips and hot cocoa mix. The lawsuits allege major retailers such as Nestle and others claim cocoa in their products was “sustainably sourced”, even though it was sourced in West Africa, where cocoa sourcing practices are neither.

Recent studies have shown that the problem of child slave labor is endemic in cocoa harvesting in West Africa.  Investigative reporters have also uncovered cocoa farming drives rainforest disaster resulting from the chocolate industry’s sourcing practices in the Ivory Coast, where the supply chains have virtually no environmental standards in place. The lawsuits allege it is misleading to consumers for retailers of chocolate/cocoa products to advertise their products as “sustainably sourced” where the cocoa is sourced using child slave labor and the supply chain lacks proper standards to protect the environment.

Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP‘s investigation of these claims continues. If you have purchased any chocolate or cocoa-based products with labels claiming the cocoa is “sustainably sourced” or something similar, feel free to contact a class action attorney at Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP for a free, confidential consultation. You can reach us by completing and submitting the case evaluation form below or by calling us at 619-400-4990.