93% of American children between 5-14 will go trick-or-treating this year. The average child will take in 91 pieces of candy on Halloween. 53% of the time they will receive chocolate. Even those of us without a sweet tooth end up eating some kind of candy on October 31st. The bigger question is: how much of it will be chocolate that has been made thanks to a child laborer trafficked into the cocoa bean trade?
It's no coincidence that Fair Trade Month happens the month of Halloween. Legislation ALMOST passed in 2001 where the FDA would've had to label, "Slave Free" on eligible chocolate packages. Instead, the chocolate industry used its corporate dollars to stop the legislation. They promised to "self-regulate" and end child slavery in the chocolate industry by 2005, but they have pushed this anti-child slavery legislation repeatedly. The current goal is now 2020. ;(.
The International Labor Organization calls the cocoa industry the "worst form of child labor trading" in the the world. Today, there are still over one million children working on cocoa farms. If you are interested in learning more on the subject, watch The Darker Side of Chocolate, a documentary covering the cocoa trade.
On average in Western Africa, cocoa farmers earn $2/day, an income below the poverty line which results in adults resorting to children to help drive down prices. Some children help their families and others are 'sold' to traffickers. Often, traffickers abduct young children from poorer neighboring countries like Burkina Faso and Mali.
Let your wallet speak this Halloween by saying you don't support child slavery! While no label can 100% guarantee that child labor was not involved, we CAN make a dent by buying chocolate with a Fair Trade, Equal Exchange or Rainforest Alliance labels, all of which promote transparency and prohibit child labor versus buying from companies that are secretive, connected to child labor crimes and seemingly disinterested in improving the situation. The other option is to purchase candy that contains no chocolate, made in countries like the USA where child labor laws are strong.
For Halloween treat options, see below:
If you are looking for a good ole chocolate bar, may I recommend to you the following brands that are slavery free and made in the USA: