Abuse Allegations in Production of Ferrero Kinder Egg Chocolate Toys – Video Response: This report describes the latest scandal involving the Italian chocolate producer Ferrero in which Romanian children have been identified working as slave labour. In addition the products, intended for children, appear to be produced under very unsanitary conditions. Video photo-essays depicting child labour are also presented.
I was horrified to read in the press today about an investigation reporting that chocolates designed to be attractive to young children had been produced using child labour in the EU. This child abuse investigation was reported initially by the Sun newspaper in the UK.
The chocolates involved are the popular Kinder Egg (Kinder Überraschung) chocolates sold by the Italian group Ferrero. Inside these chocolate eggs are small toys which the children can construct and play with. A whistleblower involved in their production reported that they are being made in people’s homes and therefore it is impossible to have the kind of quality and sanitary controls that you would expect in a modern factory.
The people who were the subject of this investigation are families in Romania, a poverty-stricken EU country. The products are made in their own homes and they are paid as little as 22p (25 euro cents) per hour. It is not unusual for such poor families to also maintain livestock in their homes and therefore there is clearly a risk that the conditions in which the products are made may be unsanitary.
Ferrero, in its statement, stated that it did carry out a strict audit of inspection of its suppliers last year and would investigate the findings from the Sun. The Sun newspaper’s report had photos of the homes and families involved in this ‘slave’ labour. They showed the dirty conditions in which the toys for eggs were made and included pictures of one worker who was a heavy smoker with callouses on their (dirty) hands.
One family interviewed (and photographed) for the Sun report was paid 20 Romanian Lei (£3.80) for a bag of 1000 completed eggs which they then delivered to a factory in Carei near the border with Hungary. This ‘slave’ family comprised of Timea Jurj (30), her husband Christian (41), children Patrick (11) Hannah (6) and Timea’s niece Tamaru (6).
It is sad that suppliers we have grown to trust need newspapers to carry out checks into their supply chains and manufacturing processes. It is horrendous that when this happens not only do we find a total lack of hygiene control but also that young children are abused by making them work under slave labour conditions. And all of this in countries which are part of the European Union. I have worked with many Romanian workers where I live near London and they are good, honest, hard-working folk. It is appalling that their compatriots back in the homeland should be mistreated in this way.
I have tried to express my deep sadness at the abuse of children as ‘slave’ labour in the videos below. These were prepared using vintage photos to illustrate the appalling conditions children were expected to work under. There is one big difference with this latest report – my pictures are over 100 years old – the pictures in the Sun are a few months old. I also wrote and produced the accompanying music. Here are the videos:
1: Ghost Children: A photographic essay set to music illustrating the lives of children who lost their childhood through child labour and poverty
2: Tears of Neglect: Shows how young boys were abused in the Coal and Glass blowing industries
3: Bike Boys: A slightly more upbeat presentation of cyclists from 100 years ago which finishes with some photos of the underage messenger boys who rode bikes for a living in the USA:
You can find many higher definition versions of reprocessed vintage photos at my personal website using the link here.
Please try to ensure that the joy you share in the festive period is not at the expense of underprivileged children from poorer countries.
PS. The original Investigation from the Sun Newspaper can be found here.