• "So if you want to ensure that it’s a happy Easter egg hunt for all children, you can ensure that the eggs are free of child-labour chocolate.” (iStockphoto/Getty Images)
Of course the almighty set of Easter eggs you buy this year will be delectable. But will they be ethical and how do you know?
By
Yasmin Noone

12 Apr 2019 - 10:34 AM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2019 - 11:31 AM

Much to the delight of children, bunnies and sweet-toothed adults, the edible centrepiece of the world’s annual Easter celebrations is the iconic chocolate Easter egg.

There’s no denying that the almighty Easter egg you gift to a dear loved one this year will be delectable but will it be ethical?

“One of the first questions to ask is ‘what is a ‘good’ egg?” says Geoff Peterson, spokesperson for World Vision. “A good egg is an ethical egg. But the next question is what is an ethical egg?”

As Peterson tells SBS, an ethical Easter egg is one that uses chocolate that has been ethically sourced. That means everyone involved in the production chain must be of working age. No slave or child labour should be used at any step of the chocolate-making process, from gathering the cocoa beans to packaging and distributing the choccie egg.

“A good egg is an ethical egg. But the next question is what is an ethical egg?”

“There’s a bitter irony here when it comes to light that some of the Easter eggs that children are looking for in their Easter egg hunts actually come off the back of the poverty and oppression of children in other countries. So if you want to ensure that it’s a happy Easter egg hunt for all children, you can ensure that the eggs are free of child-labour chocolate.”

Why would anyone want to use a child to carry out hard manual labour, you ask? Well, Peterson says it’s cheaper. When consumers demand cheap chocolate, some production companies in developing countries may find ways to cut costs. Child labour, sometimes, is one of those ways.

“We know that up to 95 per cent of the world’s chocolate is not certified as being free of using child labour,” he says. “That’s not to say that all of that 95 per cent is unethical – it is just uncertified.”

Fairtrade or other ethical certifications are a credible assurance that means chocolate producers receive fair terms of trade and fair prices for their cocoa. It also ensures that a series of legitimate steps have been taken to improve working conditions across a supply chain on a global scale.

Peterson explains that without certification, there’s no way to guarantee that the chocolate egg you are eating has been produced without child labour. Basically, he says, when you buy certification-free chocolate you’re taking a risk that the cocoa has been ethically sourced because there’s no true way of knowing.

“We know that up to 95 per cent of the world’s chocolate is not certified as being free of using child labour. That’s not to say that all of that 95 per cent is unethical – it is just uncertified.”

How to check your chocolate egg for certification

When buying chocolate check for ethical certification by looking for a “stamp of credibility” on the egg’s packaging. Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and UTZ Certified are the three principal certification bodies in Australia so scan the packet for their logo. The World Fair Trade Organisation is an international logo that can also guarantee that what you’re buying is ethical.

“If you really want to be sure, then you should look for certification symbols on the packaging of the chocolate you purchase. And that will be a bit of a guarantee that the chocolate you are buying is both slavery and pain-free.”

Oxfam Australia sells a range of ethical Easter eggs and chocolate, including those by its own brand – Oxfam Fair Online – as well as Divine Chocolate, Alter Eco Australia and Indigiearth.

Some (not all) Cadbury chocolate product lines are made from certified cocoa.

Select product ranges of certified chocolate eggs may also be sold by Chocolatier Australia and Haigh’s, as well as Choceur, Dairy Fine chocolate and Moser Roth at Aldi’s. But don’t get complacent: companies may lose certification or choose not to be certified any longer so always continue to check the packaging for certification logos.

“An ethical chocolate egg might come at a little higher price but what price are you going to pay for child protection?”

“In some supermarkets, they will have an organic or health food section, which is where they sometimes place their certified or Fair Trade items. Another option is to shop for certified chocolate eggs at independent grocers, health food shops or organic produce shops.”

The only drawback for some to buying ethical Easter eggs is that it may cost a little more to buy chocolate brands made with certified cocoa.

“An ethical chocolate egg might come at a little higher price but what price are you going to pay for child protection?”

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