Germany-based candy giant Haribo — famous for its multi-colored gummy bears — is being accused of profiting from slave labor and animal cruelty. The New York Daily News reports that the German documentary The Haribo Check seeks to expose the company for allowing workers and animals to live in gruesome conditions under the supervision of some of Haribo’s suppliers.
Haribo says it is investigating claims made in the 44-minute documentary — a look into the sources of wax and gelatin that make up Haribo’s confectionaries. Carnauba wax, which comes from trees in Brazil, is used to shine gummy bears and keep them from sticking together. The film alleges the wax is harvested by locals who work in slave-like circumstances in hot, dangerous, and dirty conditions.
Additionally, it is reported that these same workers live in run-down housing and sometimes sleep in trucks near the fields they farm. They drink water from the river and work extremely long hours with heavy instruments and without protective gear.
Haribo’s gummies are also made with gelatin, which is made from the ligaments, tendons, bones, and skin of animals, usually cattle and pigs. The documentary shows the dreadful living conditions the company’s pigs are forced to live in — pens infested with feces and maggots. The animals have swollen eyes, scars, sores, and no drinking water.
According to the company’s website, the film’s producer, public-broadcasting group Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), is not cooperating with Haribo.
“Whether the plantations shown are firms that work as suppliers to our suppliers, we do not know, since the WDR does not name the exact sources in the reportage. We have asked for information,” Haribo said in a statement. “We are already in intensive exchange with our suppliers to find out how the conditions are in the supply companies. If it turns out that they agree with the conditions shown in the reportage, of course we will act.”