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60-Second Earth

Halloween Chocolate: More Trick Than Treat?

Chocolate has a dark side--child slave labor. David Biello reports

Americans spend nearly $7 billion on Halloween. Mostly on candy, and mostly on chocolate. 

But even milk chocolate has a dark side. Most chocolate today comes from West Africa, where small landholders grow more than three million metric tons of the fruit of the cacao tree. To turn that fruit into chocolate requires labor—and much of that labor is performed by children.

More than 100,000 children in Ivory Coast and Ghana help produce more than half of the world's cocoa, according to the U.S. State Department. Worse, at least 10,000 of these kids are likely enslaved.

The cocoa industry, including giants such as Hershey's or Cadbury, pledged in 2001 to end such child labor in the cacao groves. But the deadline for voluntary compliance has been continually pushed back and the current goal is to ensure that some 50 percent of farms are child-labor free.

Fair Trade certified chocolate can help, as well as ensure that African farmers profit from the cocoa trade. Otherwise, handing kids treats derived from African children’s slave labor is a nasty trick. Nobody wants to be a slave for Halloween.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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