Don’t Let Chocolate Hurt Children

| February 14, 2013 | 2 Comments

New guide and app help Canadians find ethical options

In Canada we love chocolate. Each of us consumes an average of 5.5 kg of chocolate per year, the equivalent of 2,600 M&Ms. It’s not surprising that much of our blissful consumption happens on holidays like Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day, when many present their loved ones with something sweet and delicious.


Although I’m certainly a chocolate lover, I’ve been pretty specific with my husband about how best to show his love for me this February 14. My work at World Vision on the End Child Slavery campaign has taught me to think twice about who helped make the chocolate I crave.

Consider this:

  • An estimated 2-million children work in the cocoa industry.
  • Many are hurt and maimed while swinging machetes to harvest cacao pods.
  • Many toil in extreme heat with little pay, poor nutrition and no health care.
  • Many get sick from the pesticides.
  • They’re sometimes separated from their families and abused by employers.
  • While it’s happening mainly in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, many of these children are trafficked from Mali or Burkina Faso.

 cocoa beans, machettes and basket_web

The bitter truth

Approximately 95 per cent of chocolate sold worldwide is still not ethically certified by their party organizations like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ.  Buyers have no way of knowing that child slavery wasn’t part of its production. The cocoa in your 3 p.m. pick-me-up might have been provided by children who were forced into a 3D job–dirty, dangerous and degrading.

The better news

As part of a global initiative lead by the chocolate industry itself, the majority of large companies such as Nestlé, Hershey, Mars and Ferrero have declared that they will use only ethical cocoa in all their products by 2020.  Some companies are already taking action:

  • In Canada, Cadbury now sells a Fairtrade-certified Dairy Milk bar.
  • In Australia, World Vision was part of a campaign that led to Cadbury’s Fairtrade-certified Easter egg.
  • In Ghana, World Vision has been involved in activities led by Cadbury, along with other NGOs and the government of Ghana, to help children currently involved in unsafe work on cacao farms access education and support.


Craving change?

Valentine’s Day is a time to show our love, and also our purchasing power. This year, let’s turn chocolate into a way of showing we care not only for loved ones here in Canada, but for children overseas as well.

  • A new ChocoFinder website and app, helps you locate ethical chocolatiers in several Canadian cities.

By Cheryl Hotchkiss

Cheryl is senior manager of World Vision Canada’s End Child Slavery campaign. She works with a team to involve Canadians in activities that change and challenge the causes and consequences of child poverty overseas. Cheryl has two children, a 13-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, who spend their non-school time at hockey rinks and a dance school in Waterloo, Ontario. 


Category: Living, Non-Profit

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Comments (2)

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  1. kathy downey says:

    We try and keep the grandkids away from chocolates and other treats.We keep a fresh supply of fruits and veggies available when they visit.

  2. kathy downey says:

    Its breaks my heart to think children have to suffer like that

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