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2 Mar 2020

David Beasley, Legal Newsline (USA)

Africa: Federal class action alleges use of child labour and slavery in production of chocolates

‘Starbucks, other companies accused of using chocolate produced by slave labor’ 3 March 2020

Starbucks Corp., Mars Inc. and the Quaker Oats Company sell chocolate produced with cocoa farmed by children and slaves in West Africa, but tell consumers it is “ethically sourced,” a federal class action lawsuit claims. “Starbucks, Mars and Quaker are well aware that cocoa farming in West Africa relies heavily on child labor and slavery,” the suit says. Labels that say the chocolate is made from “ethically sourced” cocoa “Stand in stark contrast with reality,” said the suit, filed Feb. 19.

It cites a Tulane University study that found more than 2 million children work on cocoa plantations in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. "The chocolate industry drives rain forest disaster in [the] Ivory Coast,” the suit says. "At the current pace of deforestation, there will be no forest left in the Ivory Coast by 2030." The plaintiffs would not have purchased chocolate products from the companies if they had known the true source of the cocoa, said the suit, filed by consumer Lori Myers on behalf of other customers.  It seeks a court order stopping the alleged false labeling and unspecified financial damages.