According to two new class action lawsuits filed in Massachusetts, consumers are unaware that chocolate sourced from West Africa by Hershey’s and Mars makes its way through the companies’ supply lines on the backs of child labor. The lawsuits, filed against The Hershey Company and Hershey Chocolate & Confectionery Corporation and Mars, Inc. and Mars Chocolate North America, LLC, echoa case filed earlier this month against Nestléin alleging the confectioners have deceived consumers into “unwittingly supporting child and slave labor themselves through their product purchases.”
All three lawsuits contain nearly identical language, save for company and product names. After going long on the documented history of child labor abuses that have reportedly taken place in areas from which the defendants source their cocoa beans, the cases pin down Hershey’s and Mars for decrying all forms of child labor on one hand, while allegedly relying on such (and withholding this from consumers) to produce some of the most widely purchased chocolate treats.
In addition to keeping hushed the alleged child labor components of their cocoa supply chains, the lawsuits further slam Hershey’s and Mars over their supposed failure to require all suppliers to “remedy this human tragedy.” Each complaint says that while Hershey’s and Mars ostensibly have control over every aspect of the production and supply of their cocoa beans, the companies are presently “not able to trace all of the cocoa beans that make up [their] Chocolate Products back to the cocoa plantations on which they are grown, much less ensure that the cocoa beans are not the product of child or slave labor.”
Each lawsuit can be read below. Our write up of the proposed child labor class action against Nestlé can be readover at our blog.