Bad news for ladies who love chocolate but also possess a basic code of ethics. Nestlé, after recently undergoing an investigation by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), have been accused of utilizing child labor in their cocoa-supply chain, which is a violation of the company's own supplier code.
The food purveyor had commissioned the FLA inspection after increased global pressure (to Nestlé's credit, they are the first multinational chocolate company to allow the assessment), with the independent auditor mapping the chocolate supply chain in the Ivory Coast, starting in small villages and working their way up to the company's direct exporters. The assessment discovered that while most of Nestlé's primary suppliers had agreed to the company's code (which includes clauses on child labour, safety and working hours), violations ran rampant at the lower levels.
Says FLA President Auret van Heerden:
"Now that its supply chain has been mapped, Nestlé will be held accountable. For too long child labour in cocoa production has been everybody's problem and therefore nobody's responsibility. Nestlé is taking direct responsibility for decreasing the risks."
Further demonstrating the unsafe working environment, several of the child laborers were found with wounds and scars on their legs, caused by the machetes used in cocoa farming. Worse still, many of the workers, adult and child alike, have been working without pay.
Nestlé has agreed to take action, with their Executive Vice-President for Operations Jose Lopez saying:
"The use of child labour in our cocoa supply chain goes against everything we stand for. No company sourcing cocoa from the Ivory Coast can guarantee that it doesn't happen, but we can say that tackling child labour is a top priority for our company."