Candy Company Reportedly Kept Workers in ‘Slave’-Like Conditions

Candy company Haribo is under fire after an explosive documentary accuses the German candy maker of abusive labor practices and animal cruelty.

The Huffington Post reports Haribo, known globally for its gummy candies like Gold Bears and Gummi Frogs, has promised an internal investigation and is "working on a prompt audit" of their suppliers after a rather pejorative account aired on German television.

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The documentary investigation, which aired on the German series, Markencheck, is known to investigate well-known companies for issues like quality, environmental impact and ethical practices. However, they allegedly discovered that Haribo had far more issues than what the series often covers.

One of the first issues was the major ingredients in the gummies — carnauba wax, which makes the candies shiny. According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welles, while the ingredient comes from palm tree leaves, investigators discovered workers who harvest the palm leaves in northeastern Brazil actually live and work in conditions "that could be described as slavery."

The documentary also detailed horrific accounts of how the company acquires their gummy ingredient, gelatin, which comes from animal skin and bones. The Huffington Post reports that the "pigs whose bodies get turned into gelatin for Haribo suffer even before they're slaughtered."

The investigative footage shows pigs crowded together in barren, filthy conditions, while covered in their own feces. The report goes on to highlight are some are also suffering from open sores.

It should be noted that not all Haribo products are made from pork gelatin. The ones made in Turkey are made with beef gelatin, but as for the conditions, the documentary did not investigate cattle farms.

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A Haribo spokesperson told The Huffington Post that the "conditions shown in the documentary are unacceptable."

The spokesperson went on to share that the findings left the company "extremely concerned" and that an internal investigation was already under way.

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"Should it transpire that urgent improvements are needed in this area, we will insist on their implementation and will not rest until these improvements have been implemented," the spokesperson said. "Furthermore, we are currently working on a prompt auditing of our suppliers. This will also include the suppliers of our direct suppliers up to single farms – which means we are even going beyond the legal framework conditions. We will keep the public updated about any progress on this matter."

Photo credit: Instagram / @haribousa