If you're planning on stocking up on chocolate for Halloween, stay home tomorrow. Protesters are planning on picketing outside of Hershey stores nationwide, displaying their distaste for the candy company's practices.
According to Raise the Bar, the group behind the campaign, Hershey has been sourcing their cocoa from African countries that are known specifically for using child labor and in some cases forced and trafficked labor. Ten years ago, candy makers were faced with reports of awful and unlawful working conditions in the region. Since then many producers have begun to regulate and identify their sources, insuring that their products are produced honestly.
Raise the Bar argues that Hershey, the producer of 42.5% of US chocolate, has yet to implement a system of labor rights or regulation for workers in cocoa farms sourcing Hershey chocolate. Raise the Bar is asking Hershey to begin using 100% Fair Trade cocoa beans by 2012, consider Fair Trade Certification for all their products by 2022, trace their supply chain, and ask their suppliers to discontinue inhumane practices, providing proof through independent verification.
Hershey is not the only culprit, with other large producers facing the same corporate responsibility. Whether this is the first time you're hearing about Fair Trade Cocoa or the hundredth, keep it in mind during this Halloween. Research your candy bars, truffles, and baking chocolate. For more information on Raise the Bar, visit raisethebarhershey.org.
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