Hershey, Nestlé, And Mars Are Being Sued For Allegedly Using Child Labor To Harvest Cocoa In Africa

Nestlé may not be the only company accused of employing children to make their chocolate. Someone is suing Hershey for allegedly using child labor to harvest cocoa in West Africa.

The lawsuit was filed by Hagen Berman Sobol Shapiro, a litigation firm that specializes in consumer and worker rights. The firm also sued Mars and Nestlé, though there is a focus on Hershey.

Hershey created a school in Pennsylvania called the Milton Hershey School made up of more than 2,000 students, and pledged in their corporate responsibilities page that they have "zero tolerance for the worst forms of child labor in its supply chain."

"America's largest and most profitable food conglomerates should not tolerate child labor, much less child slave labor, anywhere in their supply chains," the complaint states.

The suit also notes that some children in West Africa are sold by their parents to traffickers or are kidnapped to work for recruiters or farmers.

The chocolate industry set a goal to source all cocoa from certified sources, but that does not allow the "obligation to provide disclosures to consumers at the point of sale," the suit states.

"[These issues] are not new and reflect long-term challenges in cocoa-growing countries that many stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, companies in the cocoa supply chain, and the U.S. government have been working diligently together to address for a number of years," a Hershey spokesperson told Courthouse News.

The firm is seeking class certification, declaratory judgment, restitution, and an injunction against unfair and deceptive business practices.