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Dominican Sisters of Houston
Human Trafficking and the Four Cs: Chocolate
October 20, 2011

This is the first in a series of articles that will address the Four Cs and their relationship to human trafficking (Chocolate).

CHOLCOLATE:  There may be a hidden ingredient in the chocolate brownies you just baked, the candy you will be giving away on Halloween, or the chocolate fudge ice cream you enjoyed recently.  According to the United Nations Children's Fund, 200,000 children (some as young as 9) are forced to work on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast.

Forty-three percent of the world's cocoa beans come from small, poor, West African farms located in the small country of the Ivory Coast.  On some of the farms, the hot hard work of clearing the fields and harvesting the beans is done by boys who were tricked or sold into slavery.  They work as many as 80-100 hours per week.as if this isn't enough; these enslaved children are regularly beaten and sometimes killed if they try to escape.  Those who are "fortunate" live on corn paste and bananas.  The unlucky ones are whipped, beaten and broken like horses to harvest the small almond-sized beans that are made into chocolate treats that people around the world enjoy every day.

Americans spend $13 billion on chocolate every year.  Hershey's and M&M/Mars control two-thirds of the US Chocolate market and import most of the cocoa from the Ivory Coast.  Hershey has yet to put plans into action to monitor the cocoa sources to guarantee no child or forced labor is involved in producing and gathering cocoa beans.  M&M/Mars has a system in place by using third party certification.

How can we avoid buying slave tainted chocolate?  Buy Fair Trade items that ensure that the chocolate we eat does not have that hidden, unwanted ingredient.  Here are some brands that support Fair Trade chocolate:  Endangered Species, Divine Bars, Theo, Equal Exchange, Rapunzel, and Terra. 

By buying Fair Trade products we can play a part in supporting slave-free products.your dollar does make a difference! The Fair Trade Certification process guarantees a fair price to the producers and insures that no child or forced labor of any kind is used. In order to use the fair trade label, 100% of the primary ingredient must be certified.

Sources:
· 
Child Slave Labor and Chocolate Manufacturing
·  Time to Raise the Bar: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company (2010)

To learn more about what you can do to abolish this form of modern day slavery contact the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition at www.houstonrr.org/