Take Action: Demand Fair, Healthy, and Green from Restaurant Industry
(October 26th 2015)
Eliminate Child Labor from Cocoa by Emphasizing Children, Not PR Claims
The convergence of Fair Trade Month (October) and Halloween makes it hard not to think about chocolate and kids. Not just the kids who eat the chocolate, but also the child slaves who harvest the cocoa.
A recent Tulane University study reports that child labor is on the rise in West Africa, even as eco-social certification of cocoa proliferates in the region. It is now time to switch strategies, and focus more on farmer-led solutions, payment of fair and sustainable prices, and strong government regulations.
This is what has led a group of consumers in California to sue Nestle, Hershey, and Mars, asking for both monetary compensation and warnings on packaging that child slavery was involved in production of their chocolate candies. These consumers argue that they would not have purchased products from these companies had they realized they were supporting a system of slavery.
Despite recognition that slavery, including child workers, is a significant problem in the cocoa sector, and repeated recommendations from respected groups such as the International Labor Rights Forum that farmers need higher prices if slavery is going to be eliminated, the International Cocoa Initiative, a group claiming to be the leading organization in protecting children in the cocoa industry, does not include fair pricing as part of its program strategy.
Fair World Project is joining other environmental, public health, and worker organizations to urge Darden Restaurants to serve good food that is healthy, sustainable, safe and fair. This means moving away from unsustainable systems like Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that put small-scale sustainable farmers, farmworkers, animals, public health, and the environment at risk and towards systems like fair trade that put people before profits.
Darden Restaurants owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants including Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille and others. Darden employs more than 150,000 people and serves more than 320 million meals a year, and is the #1 casual-dining operator (in terms of revenue).
As a leading food provider, Darden has a unique opportunity and responsibility to use its considerable purchasing power to support a healthier, fairer and more sustainable food system. Read more on our blog…