The Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate

2010, Society  -   36 Comments
Ratings: 8.45/10 from 166 users.

The Dark Side of ChocolateWhile we enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, the reality is strikingly different for African children.

In 2001 consumers around the world were outraged to discover that child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world's cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed.

Two members of US Congress, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eliot Engel of New York, tackled the issue by adding a rider to an agricultural bill proposing a federal system to certify and label chocolate products as slave free.

The measure passed the House of Representatives and created a potential disaster for Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Mars, Hershey's, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Saf-Cacao and other chocolate manufacturers. To avoid legislation that would have forced chocolate companies to label their products with "no child labor" labels (for which many major chocolate manufacturers wouldn't qualify), the industry fought back and finally agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by 2005.

The chocolate industry fought back. Ultimately, a compromise was reached to end child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms by 2005. In 2005 the cocoa industry failed to comply with the protocol’s terms, and a new deadline for 2008 was established. In 2008 the terms of the protocol were still not met, and yet another deadline for 2010 was set.

Almost a decade after the chocolate companies, concerned governments and specially foundations spent millions of dollars in an effort to eradicate child labor and trafficking in the international cocoa trade, has anything changed?

Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launch a behind-the-scenes investigation and verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.

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36 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Mya

    I used to love chocolate before watching this documentary I was so oblivious of this horrid child trafficking and labour system! But I decided that I will not buy chocolates anymore until these companies take action against this situation. It starts with the consumers: if they stop buying the products, a difference can be made. Maybe not soon but eventually...

  2. Eddekum

    Basically we a feeding the system and its population while we are left out.....I think we must know who we are and stand as one

  3. michael

    Oh let them police themselves. That's sure to work. Yea right.

  4. Thanh

    I used to think Nestle is a great company, but from now on, my viewpoint has changed. If in the future I work in an agricultural products processing firms, or any companies concerned with food, it will never be Nestle, Kraft, Mars...
    Please do business clean!

  5. emma

    I am not eating chocolate any more

  6. KAM7

    27:55 to 28:10 says it all. What a liar. Not to mention the shifty eyes.

  7. Lucas Dawkins

    Another example of slaves in poor countries, making the first-world corporations rich, and powerful to the point of them being untouchable. I'm ashamed of the human race.?

    1. Reese Reynolds

      Yeah true

  8. Dre

    Will NEVER see white children or people going through **** like this.

    1. flagirl336

      Please read some history and get past the racism. There have been many thousands of white child slaves over the centuries.

  9. reflectivemood

    One of the explanations I can think of is that adult workers can join their strenghth and fight for their rights, wages etc. if necessary, while little boys and girls are defenceless and distraught under these conditions esp. when they have been trafficked and are far away from their homes.A sad and very sobering documentary.Yet another example that slavery is still around us in the 21 century.

  10. mia

    I love chocolate. But now, I will quit my occasional addiction escape. Good documentary. And I agree, they were most courageous to make this. I hope the African rescuers will not be harmed for willfully or unwillfully providing information.

    Like it or not, we are living in a capitalistic world, so vote with your dollar.

  11. KsDevil

    That certainly makes choclate a bitter treat. I might have brusged it off if the parents had made a lagitemit contract to have their older children do the light and safe parts of cocoa farming, but slave labor is unforgivable. I can't believe there are no adults around to perform all of these jobs at a fair wage. Also, more proof that corporate corruption is the standard, not the exception.

    1. Dawn


  12. pattye

    Thanks for the "on-site investigation." Well done. Now, on to the next chapter where we ask Hershey to "Raise the Bar" and Nestle to go to mars!

  13. Sorin

    The international law states that child labour is illegal, also that any child has the right to a home and education. This documentary and all you *cry babies* only talk about is the first part and ignore the second part. These children must support their family (it's a different culture) and get beaten if they come home without any money or food. So stop pointing the finger at major companies and stop comparing Africa to your way of life.

    1. Colete

      Yes, you are right, maybe I forgot to mention that second part - the other culture, the right to education and family life. This children clearly support their family or are left to go because their family can't support them. But than... That unjustice in their lives doesn't justify the unjustice of giving them the dangerous work, just because their culture is like that or because they will get beaten up. It is like a criminal giving stolen money for charity reasons to get a good name. The second thing I want to point out is that here we have developed countries involved. No, it is not only the culture. It is us in that culture... SEING!!!

    2. Samuel Ford

      Just another example of capitalism in action. International companies profiting off the poor economic state of another third world nation where the government does not protect the rights of the lower classes due to the fear of losing big business which probably accounts for the majority of their exports. Their predicament is partially due to a history of imperialistic/capitalistic ideology's that have occurred in the region. Placing the blame on their culture would not be completely accurate. When there is widespread poverty comes down to the survival of the fittest.

      All that aside, the key point to this film was corporate responsibility which is really just a form of consumer responsibility. Business will continue as usual as long as it is more profitable to do so.

    3. Jesuslordofall

      First thing that is not always true. And secondly, you help people understand good things instead of leaving them live with their ignorance. Would you say same thing if those children were yours or you happen to be that poor child?

    4. Ali Nitkiewicz

      The irony here is that you seem to have missed the second part of the documentary - these children are not supporting their families because guess what - they don't get paid. What you are dealing with is exploitation. The parents who do relinquish their children believe they are doing so on the basis that they will be paid, not on the basis that they will be beaten and used as slaves. Slavery is deemed to be fundamentally wrong at an international level and in no society, no matter what cultural differences exist should it be condoned on the basis of custom. I started working at 14 and 9 months old, but I was remunerated, free to go if I wished and my health and safety were not endangered by my occupation. No mans or child's liberty should be taken from them because they are socio-economically disadvantaged, because they were unfortunate enough to be born into a third world country or because corporations who are socially irresponsible turn a blind eye to their suppliers practices in order to maximise profitability. Shame on you for condoning these practices on the basis of economic disaprities.

  14. idealpointer

    standing ovation for that doc, NESTLE will never get another cent out of me whilst they continue to ignore and support the practices under which they acquire their cocoa and make billions of dollars a year from the use of child slave labour. Not only do they turn a blind eye, but they fund the whole operation by continuing to buy cheap cocoa to maximise profits for their companies.. shame on ALL CHOCOLATE FACTORIES!!!

  15. robbiebell

    Its not Capitalism you pea brains its the pisshole goverments of ivory Coast ,Mali who could not giv a S*** Africa still has SLAVERY of its own ,by its own!!!!! The Dark Continent is not a slogan

    1. Jack1952

      Capitalism is driven by the need for maximum profit. Nestle can choose to not do business in those countries or insist that they treat their workers with dignity. They don't because the profits they need are maximized by treating workers in an unscrupulous manner.

    2. dustyfootobserver

      You speak only of the beast that has been allowed, nay supported by the The Imperialistic powers that be to thrive. Name one African Dictator (as they are all Dictators despite the logo they sport) that has not received an education and sponsoring in one of the so called Developed countries; usually The U.K. or America which in these matters are about as developed as a malignant tumor.

      The ones that HAVE risen from the population such as Gadafi; well they recieve the old mafia ultimatum, the stick or the carrot. We help you or we hurt you. With us or against us, Its all propaganda we've been forced to swallow. Do some research Sir.

      This isn't the NCAA we can't just support a team because they are our team. How can you watch a piece like this and support the very system that makes such exploitation so profitable and rampant? I would refer you Sir to the South American Coca-Cola cases, in which Union Officials are being killed at an abhorrently rapid rate. Why? for the same reason that horrid Governor of Wisconsin is trying to take away collective bargaining from government workers.

      Capitalism is an infinite growth paradigm in a finite system, the planet. It has been proven a failure, move on.

      Apologies for any offence given, I speak to your speech and not to you as an individual.


  16. Colete

    In preparation to watch this documentary, I took my favorite chocolate next to me, broke it on pieces and started eating it... Expecting the documentary was going to be about the negative health sides of the chocolate, I was suprised to see a different story... A bitter taste stayed in my mouth throughout the film.

  17. Dirk Johnson

    The Free Market at work? Hands off the market and everything goes smoothly, eh?

  18. Dirk Johnson

    The Free Market at work? Hands off the market and everything goes smoothly, eh?

  19. Vladimir Petkovic

    no words!!! what do ppl do damn it !?

    how come no one there to shoot those bustards misusing kids and ppl.

    Poor Afrikan ppl getting constantly exploited by us.

    whaaaat?:)) they called the Police!??damn government and "democracy wonder I do not like nestle anymore.

  20. Jack1952

    Chocolate is the product centered out in the documentary. Unfortunately, almost every product one can name has a dark history behind it. It would almost be impossible to buy only products where workers have not been severely exploited. It is the reality of a global economy that has its roots in capitalism

    1. Sarahadam1

      Buy fair trade from Oxfam stores, they have a variety of goods.

  21. Sharron Stokieshazer Hardwick

    This is disgraceful chocolate that is not Fair Trade is sick - it should be boycotted by all of us then the companies will have to act!! This must be stopped! Only we as consumers can stop it.

  22. Karenwasherefirst

    Poverty sucks, especially when to the solution is so simple: SHARE the wealth

  23. Ella Silver

    All my friends tease me because i really dislike chocolate. They say jokingly that i don't have a soul.

    Pardon me.. Just enjoying the smug feeling.

  24. eugler

    Nestle once again. And once again those pitiful people have nothing to do with it but profit only "by accident". I'd love to stop by their place sometime, all that is needed is a torch, a pitchfork and some friendly neighours...

  25. equidae

    All I can really wonder at is the reasoning behind showing their sources faces and such. They claim there's a certain amount of risk in working against these traffickers, and that certainly seems plausible. But if so aren't the men/women doing so who are most at risk, the ones who do so while living in these places. Thus it seems like quite a risk, even for those of them who may no longer be actively fighting these crimes. Wonders?

  26. François-Mathieu Hotte

    Capitalism serve fresh everyday!
    Sick, as always.
    Nobody gives ashite about Africa or African!
    What de hek is this thing about a protocol in 2005,2008 and 2010.
    It's right f****** now!
    If we act like that in the world, don't expect peacefull resolution to the world problems while we are spreading that NUTELA on our morning toast.
    You bunch of hypocrite!
    This document really make me mad.