This Valentine’s Day, keep chocolate child-labor free

Only about 5 percent of chocolate sold worldwide is certified to be free of exploitative child labor.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published February 13, 2013 at 12:00am PST

Still struggling to find that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart?

Chocolates are a favorite standby to show affection. But could those delicious treats be produced using exploitative child labor?

The bitter truth

Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s End Child Slavery campaign in Canada, says the answer is “yes.”

“The bitter truth is that children are doing dirty, dangerous, and degrading work in the chocolate industry,” she says.

“They get hurt swinging machetes to cut down cacao pods. They get sick from pesticides and toil in extreme heat with little pay, poor nutrition, and no healthcare. They’re separated from their families, and can even be abused by employers,” she says.

Most large chocolate companies have declared they will use only ethically produced cocoa by 2020. But so far, only about 5 percent of chocolate sold worldwide is certified to be free of exploitative child labor.

World Vision wants companies to work more closely with third-party certification organizations, such as Fair Trade USA, to establish that their chocolate supply chains meet ethical standards.

In search of child-labor free chocolate

The thought of eating chocolate need not make you feel sick. Search the web for chocolatiers that meet fair-trade standards.

Here’s a list of quality chocolate, readily available online or in stores, that has Fair Trade USA’s seal of approval. They can be enjoyed with a clear conscience.

  • Le Marais Chocolat truffles (Le Marais Chocolat)
  • Fabulous Flax (sweetriot)
  • Kickin’ Coconut (sweetriot)
  • Dark Quinoa (Alter Eco)
  • Dark Coconut (Alter Eco)
  • Chocolate Covered Expresso Beans (Kopali)
  • Cherries in Dark Chocolate (Chocolove)
  • Currants and Almonds in Dark Chocolate (Chocolove)
  • Lily’s Dark Chocolate Coconut (Lily’s)
  • Fruity (TCHO)

How you can help

Pray for children around the world who are being harmed by child labor practices. Pray that they would be freed from exploitation and be able to grow and thrive in a safe, nurturing environment.

Search for additional child-labor free chocolate producers by visiting the Fair Trade USA site.

Call your congressional representative. Urge him or her to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act so that the United States can remain a leader in the fight against human trafficking. Millions of children are trafficked for child labor and exploitation each year.

Make a one-time donation to help children in crisis. You can help provide children with the support they need to escape exploitation, through interventions like medical care, nutritious food, counseling, access to education, and more.