Is it really the Sweetest Place on Earth?: Hershey’s Chocolate’s poor response to child labor allegations.

Hershey Chocolate Factory is one of the most famous candy manufacturers in the world. Between the park and the factory, Hershey’s name is known throughout the globe. Although this huge company seems to be a family friendly place, there have been allegations of child labor in the Ivory Coast in some of the cocoa plantations. Oliver Balch, a reporter for The Guardian, has said that eight children have come forward and claimed they were used for slave labor at these plants.

“Ivory Coast produces 45% of the global chocolate supply”, says Balch, “the production of cocoa in West Africa has been linked to human rights abuses….and child labor.” Hershey has promised to review its labor laws, but has not said anything else on it.

Hershey Chocolate Factory should own up to its abuse of children in their factories overseas. The low wage and harsh working conditions these children face should not go unnoticed. According to Bob Fernandez, a reporter for the Tribune News Service, Hershey was asked to join in regulating child labor in 2020, but it is still unknown whether they support this deal in Washington or not.

A huge company like Hershey has the power to influence other companies using child labor, if Hershey itself did. Ignoring this will only let the problem continue. Hershey Chocolate Factory needs to be held accountable for its action, rather than to let it continue. Hershey and other chocolate factories had made a pledge two decades ago to stop using child labor, but as of 2020, the use of child labor continues. Peter Whoriskey and Rachel Sigel, two reporters for the Washington Post, point out that Hershey is unable to identify which of their factories uses child labor. 

Not being able to identify which factories are using child labor reflects poorly on the company. It can be hard to keep track of 17 different factories across the globe but when it comes to child labor, they should be inspecting and reinspecting all those factories overseas. Hershey has said they want to get rid of their child labor, but have not taken serious, legal action in order for that to happen. It is easy to say that they are taking steps towards this but it is another thing to  act.

Ions speak louder than words, so Hershey should take steps to ensure that they will make sure child labor will be no more in their overseas factories and not just say they are trying to eliminate it. 

The Hershey website has put out a section dedicated to the child labor laws overseas, but it says that it is a “complex issue” and that no children have been forced to work in their cocoa plants. 

The lawsuit Herhsey faces as of February 2021 says differently. Hershey says they are monitoring these accusations, but has told the media they are not sure which plants are using child labor. The rest of this section goes on to talk about the diversity Hershey will have in employment and the education the children overseas will receive in the year 2025. It quickly glances over the problem at hand and goes straight into how Hershey Chocolate Factory will have more representation in the workplace, which is good, however this is not the issue at hand.

The rest of this page goes on to talk about providing the children in their overseas factories with schooling in order to combat this child labor crisis but without knowing which factories are practicing child labor, it is hard to put those childern into the classroom. Hershey’s company says they will have these resolved by 2025, but they are not investigating the plants that are using children to harvest their cocoa beans. 

This company needs to take action now, rather than have a four year plan to stop it. Children are being forced into terrible work environments. They are missing out on being children and are forced into being adults. Hershey and many other factories should re-evaluate how their products are made overseas and take action now rather than wait when it comes to child labor. 

Sources: Hershey Chocolate Factory, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Tribune News Service 

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