Learn more here about forced labor in the chocolate supply chain.
In 2001, Hershey’s admitted using the worst forms of child slave labor when it signed the Harkin Engel Protocol, and again in 2005, 2008 and 2010, and promised to stop it. Sadly, 15 years, more than an entire generation, has passed since Hershey first promised to eradicate the problem, and more children are enslaved than ever.
In response to a March, 2016 Federal court ruling that Hershey doesn’t have to disclose on its label that it uses child labor, Hershey’s said, “At Hershey, we do not tolerate unacceptable forms of child labor…” The Judge said disclosure would only be necessary “to counter an affirmative misrepresentation.”
In March 2016, a federal judge issued identical rulings regarding two class action lawsuits against Nestlé and Hershey. U.S. District Judge Joseph Spero stated, “[The court] agrees with Judge Seeborg’s conclusion that the weight of authority limits a duty to disclose under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act to issues of product safety, unless disclosure is necessary to counter an affirmative misrepresentation. Further, the court agrees with Judge Seeborg and Hershey that some bright-line limitation on a manufacturer’s duty to disclose is sound policy, given the difficulty of anticipating exactly what information some customers might find material to their purchasing decisions and wish to see on product labels.”
Hershey’s said, “We are pleased that the court recognized that this lawsuit had no merit. At Hershey, we do not tolerate unacceptable forms of child labor and remain committed to eliminating it the cocoa-growing regions of West Africa. We know this is an enormous challenge. As a single company, we know we cannot do it alone. We support large-scale, multi-stakeholder efforts as a member of the industry’s CocoaAction initiative and continue to accelerate our own programs to address this important issue.”
Which is it? Who do you believe?