Child Slave Labor Rampant in Chocolate Supply Chain

Labor News

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Ramona Lampley on February 8, 2019.

Thinking of buying your sweetheart that classic box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day? Well, think before you buy. That chocolate might not taste so sweet if you knew it was made from ingredients harvested through the sweat and toil of child slaves.

Sixty percent or more of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa. These countries are notorious for the worst forms of child slavery. An estimated 1.9 million children are engaged in forced labor on the Ivory Coast alone.

“The use of child slave labor in the Ivory Coast is a humanitarian tragedy,” according to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, citing studies by the International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the US Department of State and other organizations. “Besides the obvious moral implications, this widespread use of child slavery contributes to poverty in the Ivory Coast, degrades its victims by treating them as commodities, and causes long-term mental and physical trauma.”

Major US chocolate manufacturers are aware of this. And yet you will find no mention of the potential use of child slave labor in their supply chain on their pretty packaging. …

SF Chronicle 2/8

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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