- A 45-minute investigative report aired by German broadcasting station ARD shows alleged slave labor practices behind the making of Haribo ingredients.
- The documentary claims the company is unknowingly complicit in both slave labor and animal abuse.
- Haribo uses carnauba wax to make its gelatin, and the ingredient is sourced from Brazilian plantations where workers are "treated like animals," according to the documentary.
Haribo gummy bears may be some of the most colorfully cheerful confections on the planet, but a new investigative documentary called "The Haribo Check" uncovers what may be a dark secret behind the making of these snacks.
ARD — a German broadcasting station — aired the 45-minute documentary detailing what it found to be cruel labor and animal welfare practices behind the making of major ingredients in Haribo gummy bears. The investigation, which was part of a series called "Markencheck" ("Brand Check"), claims that the German candy company has become unwittingly dependent on modern-day slave labor in Brazil.
Two of the major ingredients in gummy candies are gelatin and carnauba wax. Gelatin is traditionally made from animal fat, specifically pig fat, and Haribo sources its gelatin from a company called GELITA. In the documentary, pigs from German farms that are eventually delivered to GELITA are shown roaming in crowded crates without access to water, covered in open sores and their own filth, and sometimes being made to sleep next to corpses of their own kind.
Perhaps even more disturbing are the images of what appears to be modern-day slave labor shown in the documentary. Scenes depict cruel working conditions on Brazilian farms and plantations that produce carnauba wax, which is made from the leaves of carnauba palm trees. The wax itself is used in dozens of different household products, including dental floss and shoe polish.
According to the documentary, workers at many farms who cut down carnauba leaves make no more than $12 a day. They do not wear protective gloves or clothing for the dangerous labor, are forced to sleep in trucks, and do have no access to toilets or clean water, the documentary claims.
Conditions are so bad that the Brazilian government has gotten involved, conducting raids on various farms with "inhuman" working conditions that make headlines again and again, according to ARD. In Brazil, slavery is not only defined by the wages (or lace thereof) that a worker makes, but also inhumane labor conditions.
"The workers are treated like objects, worse than animals," Sergio Carvalho, a Brazilian Labor Ministry official said in the documentary.
In response to these allegations, Haribo has claimed ignorance of any slave-like labor conditions in their supply chain, and has launched an internal investigation into the findings, the company said in a statement on its German website.
"We would like to emphasize that we are extremely concerned by some of the images shown on the consumer program 'HARIBO-Check' on German TV channel ARD last week," a Haribo spokesperson told INSIDER. "The conditions on the pig farms and the Brazilian plantations shown are insupportable. Our fundamental attitude in this respect is: Social and ethical standards are indivisible and non-negotiable."
See the original (German) documentary below:
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