(RepublicanPress.org) – Mars, Inc. is a worldwide company that manufactures a wide array of products spanning different kinds of food, candies, pet care, and nutritional solutions. The company has four main divisions — Mars Wrigley produces candy like Snickers and M&Ms, Mars Food makes Uncle Ben’s, and Suzi Wan Asian foods. Mars Petcare manufactures Pedigree and Whiskas, and Mars Edge supplies protein shakes and supplements. Founded in 1911, the company started by selling buttercream candies, but much of the world associates Mars with chocolate. Recently, accusations of child labor violations put a stain on the chocolatier.
On November 29, CBS News revealed it had investigated cocoa bean harvesting practices in Ghana, which supplies chocolate to the Mars corporation. The news outlet found children as young as five wielding machetes almost as big as themselves to harvest cocoa beans. The CBS team reportedly visited a small farm in the African country, which sits along the cocoa belt to see how Mars’ child labor phase-out was faring. The company previously promised to eliminate all child labor from its supply chain by 2025. Granted, the deadline is still more than a year away, but according to those in the village, the company isn’t following up to ensure that children are off the working field.
According to the report, Mars said it had rescued thousands of kids from working long hours in lieu of attending school. A whistleblower allegedly procured that list and gave it to CBS, who followed up to make sure the children were actually in school and not working in the cocoa fields. Investigators found that some of the kids were still working, and some of the names belonged to children that don’t exist at all.
A cocoa field supervisor told CBS that the lists are completely bogus. The informant said he and his colleagues are given very short notice and are pressured into producing names. He said nobody checks the list’s accuracy.
The company responded swiftly to the CBS News report. Mars accused the media outlet of withholding details of its investigation, preventing the company from properly looking into the allegations. The US candy maker said it condemns the use of child labor and insists it is working hard to eradicate it. Mars claimed it has a code of conduct with its cocoa suppliers in Ghana. The agreement states that suppliers must create a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) and have it in place by 2025. The CLMRS already in place are monitored and audited for compliance.
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