Wednesday, 24 March 2010

In the News...

Tracing the bitter truth of chocolate and child labour

Reporter Paul Kenyon with cocoa beans in Ghana
Paul Kenyon posed as a cocoa dealer to find child labourers

This Easter, Britons will eat their way through 80m chocolate eggs without the slightest taste of how the essential ingredient in our favourite treat is harvested.

The truth, as BBC Panorama reporter Paul Kenyon discovered when he posed as a cocoa dealer in West Africa, leaves a bitter taste.

In an investigation into the supply chain that delivers much of the chocolate sold in the UK - more than half a million tonnes a year - the BBC found evidence of human trafficking and child slave labour.

Panorama also found that even chocolate marketed as Fairtrade cannot rule out that that, despite having standards and auditing in place, there may still be a possibility of child labour - as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the supply chain.

Dangerous tools

By the time it hits the High Street, cocoa becomes increasingly hard to trace.

As it passes from farmer to buyer to wholesalers, exporters, importers and manufacturers on the journey from cocoa pod to dried bean to chocolate bunny, it becomes more and more likely to have at some point in the chain included the labour of children who have never so much as tasted a chocolate bar.

The ILO defines the worst kind of child labour as "labour likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children" and includes the use of hazardous tools - such as the machetes needed to chop the cocoa pods free from trees.

Read the rest of the story at

This is one of those things that we neglect considering. Where do our luxuries come from and how are they obtained? Are we okay with the fact that they are obtained this way? Is knowing enough to make us do something about it? WHAT can we do, as the mere consumer?

1 comment:

  1. why did you have to get on your horse about chocolate, of all thing, why couldn't it have been about Cuban cigars or sweatshops for Kmart. But chocolate, You know I love you, but this is going too far.