The company responsible for Hairbo Gummy Bears have been accused by a German documentary of producing candies made from slavery and animal cruelty.
A documentary from the German broadcaster ARD alleges that the vaulted candy-maker Haribo’s gummy bears are made using ingredients farmed by near-slave laborers in Brazil and from abusive animal farms in which pigs wander amongst the rotting corpses of their own dead.
The documentary states they are two ingredients: carnauba wax, an ingredient used in a coating that keeps the bears from sticking together, and gelatin, which is made from pork skin and is what makes gummies “gummy.” The German-language documentary, called “Markencheck” or “Brand Check,” shows workers at carnauba wax plantations in Brazil harvesting the wax from tall trees using long, bladed poles.
The documentary claims the workers make about $12 a day, are forced to sleep outside or in their cars, have no access to toilets and drink water straight out of nearby rivers, Deutsche Welle reported. A Brazilian labor official told the filmmakers in the documentary the conditions “could be described as slavery” and the workers “are treated as objects, worse than animals.”
The film also included footage of a pig farm in northern Germany, allegedly a supplier of pig skin to Gelita, which makes gelatin that is sold to Haribo, Deutsche Welle reported. The footage shows the pigs wandering in their pens, covered in excrement and open sores and stepping around the bodies of the dead.
“It almost seems cynical that a product that is partly manufactured under such cruel conditions for animals is given the form of a cute animal,” animal rights organization Tierretter, which says it provided the footage to the filmmakers, said in a translated statement.
This struck a nerve with those who are very familiar with the candy company, saying their childhood is ruined.
Story originally published on fortune.com