Friday, October 20, 2017

Gummy Bear Exploitation

Confectioner Haribo, makers of such things as Gummy Bears, has come under intense criticism after a documentary discovered cruel conditions in the manufacture of a key ingredient in Brazil. Pigs also suffer in the making of gelatin. The documentary examined both the health and production issues of Haribo products, which are sold all over the world, and found failures of oversight in the production of carnauba wax and animal gelatin that left some of Brazil's poorest workers, and pigs in industrial farms in Germany, suffering in horrific conditions.

Carnauba wax, which is applied to gummy bears to make them glossy and prevent them from sticking together, is gleaned from the leaves of carnauba palm trees, which only grow in Brazil's northeastern states of Piaui, Ceara, Maranhao, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Norte - among the country's poorest regions. The wax, some €100-million ($118 million) worth, is exported from the region to many countries around the world, chiefly the United States, Japan, and Germany.

Haribo was sourcing its carnauba wax from plantations where workers earning 40 Real ($12) a day have to cut the leaves down with hooked blades tied to long poles, are forced to sleep outside or in trucks, have no access to toilets, and have to drink unfiltered water straight from nearby rivers. Some of the workers are also underage. The conditions on the plantations are so poor that the Brazilian police occasionally carry out raids to free the workers. A Brazilian Labor Ministry official said there had been an increasing number of complaints about the carnauba wax industry and that authorities had found many people working in conditions "that could be described as slavery."

"The workers are treated as objects, worse than animals," he said.

Other footage recorded of farms which provide pig skin for meat producer Westfleisch, which processes it for Haribo's gelatin supplier Gelita showed pigs with open sores and abscesses living in indoor pens on their own excrement and in some cases among their own dead. Some pigs were also deprived of drinking water. Veterinarians interviewed on the program said that the conditions clearly violated Germany's animal protection laws. 

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