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Food Manufacturers Sued Over Child Labor in Cacao Production


A case filed November 29th in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleges that Cargill, Inc., Mondelez and Mars, Inc. are indirectly supporting child labor through their purchase of cocoa from nations in West Africa.  The Plaintiffs allege indifference by the U.S. companies to labor practices in Ghana.  The complaint alleges that companies are aware of pervasive exploitation of child labor in the cocoa supply chain despite pledges to eliminate unacceptable practices.  Cargill, Inc. in response stated, “Forced child labor is unacceptable, and we take these allegations very seriously.”


Allegations of exploitation of child labor in developing nations with extreme poverty reflect the realities of existence.  It is, however, more concerning that human trafficking, employment of minors even with parental consent and other forms of exploitation have been revealed in the     supply chains of the U.S. food industry. 

It will be impossible to eliminate undesirable practices in nations supplying agricultural commodities to the U.S. if we ourselves cannot eliminate undesirable and exploitive practices in agriculture as documented in recent actions by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security.