South East MEP Catherine Bearder is supporting charity Stop the Traffik’s campaign calling on shops to make sure the Easter eggs they sell are not made using child labour.
She said: “Despite the hard work of groups such as Stop the Traffik, it is still tricky to buy Easter Eggs which are Fairtrade. I think the change will only happen with pressure from shoppers.
“I am encouraged by European Union efforts to ensure a fair deal for African farmers producing cocoa.
“But more needs to be done to stop exploitation of child labour on plantations… and we can start by demanding changes in shops.”
Catherine visited a cocoa factory in the Ivory Coast and learned about the battle to ensure cocoa plantations do not use child labour.
Stop the Traffik said children are trapped in the worst forms of exploitative labour across West Africa where two thirds of the world’s cocoa is sourced.
The charity has produced a letter for supporters to send to local shopkeepers or store manager, encouraging them to stock chocolate branded with a Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ logo.
It can be downloaded from http://www.stopthetraffik.org/campaign/chocolate.
Five major chocolate manufacturers, including Verkade, Swiss Noir, Cadbury, Nestlé and Mars, now supply certified chocolate bars.
And the European Parliament is working towards a new international cocoa agreement, which is aiming to regulate the industry and includes tackling child labour.
Last year Catherine called on the European Commission to work to stop human trafficking in countries, such as Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Catherine added: “The message to UK shopkeepers is clear: I want to buy chocolate from your shop, but only if its traffick free.
“Guilt over overindulging on Easter eggs is one thing… let’s not feel guilty about the source of our chocolate.”
1) Please note spelling of charity Stop the Traffik. You can log on for more information at http://www.stopthetraffik.org/campaign/chocolate/what-you-can-do/61
2) You can find out more about Catherine’s campaign Open Your Eyes to Trafficking at http://bearder.eu/en/page/trafficking
3) Show your support on Twitter by using hashtag #traffikfree