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Chocolate scorecard

October 22, 2010 - Jim Anderson
The chocolate scorecard is out, just in time for Halloween.

The scorecard has nothing to do with the flavor of chocolate treats.

Prepared by Green America, the “Get Child Labor out of Your Chocolates” chart focuses on whether companies can offer assurances that their cocoa comes from plantations that are free of child slavery or other abuses.

Eleven smaller companies (none that are familiar to me) have earned grades ranging from B minus to A.

Grades for the big producers are as follows: Kraft, D plus; Mars, D plus; Nestle, D minus; and Hershey, F.

Nearly 10 years ago, in response to reports of abusive child labor in the West African cocoa industry, Hershey and other chocolate companies made a commitment to take responsibility for their cocoa supply chains.

The chocolate scorecard is Green America’s assessment of the progress the respective companies have made.

Just last month, with U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D- N.Y. expressing frustration with the “slow pace” of change, the U.S. government and the chocolate industry pledged $17 million to help end child labor in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

According to a McClatchy Newspapers story, the Labor Department pledged $10 million and chocolate industry groups pledged $7 million for building schools and helping rural families escape poverty so they don't have to rely on their children's wages.

Also, Hershey recently issued a corporate social responsibility report, saying it encourages and trains its suppliers to meet fair labor practices. The company also noted its efforts to help increase incomes and build schools in Africa.

Critics want more.

Green America, along with Global Exchange, the International Labor Rights Forum and Oasis USA have called upon Hershey to adopt the Fair Trade label for all of its products by 2022.

Fair Trade certifies that farmers are paid a fair price and that social, environmental and labor standards — including the prohibition of forced child labor — are enforced, the human rights and environmental groups say.



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