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Buying chocolate for Valentine’s Day? This info might make you reconsider

Chocolate served in heart-shaped boxes is a staple of Valentine’s Day, but you may think twice about purchasing after hearing about the chocolate industry’s questionable labor practices.

Robert Ulin, Ph.D., a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, says 60% of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, specifically Ghana and the Ivory Coast, according to WHEC.

“The problem of childhood labor on the cocoa farms in West Africa is something that’s well known since the 1990s. However, journalists who have tried to obtain more information are stonewalled. The large chocolate companies say we don’t have anything to do about it or we know nothing about it,” said Ulin.

When asked about conditions child laborers are subjected to, Ulin painted a dark picture of mistreatment. He says there are claims children as young and five years old work 16-hour days, are often beaten for making mistakes, and are given minimal food or nutrition.

“It’s really an astonishing and appalling treatment of children,” said Ulin.