OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
11:40 PM – Thursday, November 30, 2023
Children as young as 5-years-old in Ghana have been discovered using machetes almost as large as they are in order to harvest cocoa beans needed for some of America’s most popular chocolate bars and candy.
On Wednesday, an unnamed whistleblower from the company released a slew of insider information, which described how Mars, the American chocolate giant that supplies popular treats like M&Ms and Snickers, broke a pledge it made stating that it would discontinue the use of child labor in small subsistence farms in Africa.
A CBS News crew traveled to Ghana’s remote cocoa belt to find small subsistence farms that manufacture Mars’ candy products.
As a result, the crew discovered children, some as young as 5-years-old, working at the farms, even though the company had previously committed to have procedures put in place to “eliminate child labor in its supply chain.”
According to the crew, one child almost lost his fingers while slicing open the cocoa pods.
A 15-year-old girl named Munira told reporters that she had been working in the Ghana cocoa fields since she was 5-years-old, saying that her family “could not afford the cost of sending her to a school, which is an hour-long walk away.”
“I feel sad. I want to be, like, a medical doctor,” Munira told the press. “But my family doesn’t have money for school.”
Field operators at the cocoa farms who work for Mars, inc., claimed to reporters that they consistently create lists that list names of children who are “supposed to be kept away from the cocoa plantations” and enrolled in school.
Mars had previously promised that it would make sure that the children are attending school, however, field supervisors said that the candy company “never bothered” to confirm if this was actually the case.
When reporters asked Mars representatives about the use of child labor to manufacture their candy products, one spokesperson stated that “Mars unequivocally condemns the use of child labor,” and that it has “no place in our supply chain, and we are fully committed to helping to eradicate it.”
“CBS did not provide specific details of their investigation to Mars ahead of time in order for us to investigate the claims of misconduct at the time of this report,” the company spokesperson said. “Mars treats any claim of misconduct in our supply chain very seriously and pledges to thoroughly investigate once we have the necessary information and take appropriate action.”
Additionally, Mars posted a press statement regarding its cocoa manufacturers in Africa and the company’s agreements with child labor laws.
“Our cocoa manufacturers in Africa have agreed to adhere to our robust Supplier Code of Conduct and we have also been clear that they must have a Child Labor and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place by 2025 that complies with the industry-leading International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) standard,” the company said.
“To be clear, we condemn the use of child labor,” the company added. “We will continue to work diligently with parties across the cocoa sector to further help advance respect for human rights in the cocoa supply chain.”
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