Tim Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
With restaurants in 18 cities, the District of Columbia and even the United Arab Emirates, Cosi is a popular spot for sandwiches, salads and other items. One of its popular menu features are s'mores that you can toast up at your table. The s'mores kit comes with graham crackers, marshmallows and a Hershey chocolate bar. While Cosi's motto is "Life Should be Delicious," there is a potentially unsavory ingredient in the restaurant's chocolate treats.
Child labor, forced labor and trafficking continue in West Africa's cocoa industry. Almost ten years after major chocolate companies agreed to eliminate these abuses from their supply chains, the exploitation has not ended. Recently, the US Department of Labor included cocoa from five West African nations on its "List of Goods Produced by Forced Labor or Child Labor."
A research team from Tulane University has been conducting the most extensive independent review of company efforts to address child and forced labor on cocoa farms in West Africa and recently released its final assessment. The report's top recommendation is that "industry should continue to scale up its consumption -- and publicly commit to new procurement targets -- of product certified cocoa, specifically in the U.S. market." Many companies are starting to commit to using Fair Trade Certified cocoa as a step toward responsibly sourcing their cocoa.
Cosi has not made a commitment to using cocoa that is Fair Trade Certified and it has almost no information publicly available about its policies to ensure that its food products are not linked to extreme labor rights abuses. That is why concerned consumers are calling on Cosi to start using Fair Trade Certified cocoa for its chocolate products, starting with s'mores.