If you’re a fan of Haribo gummy candies, you may want to put that bag down for just a second: New reports about the candy company claim it’s sourcing ingredients that are made by workers living in deplorable conditions, as well as others that come from animals that are mistreated.
The A.V. Club points to a documentary from ARD, a German public broadcaster, that found that the workers harvesting carnauba wax — which gives gummies’ tummies that shine and prevents stickage — “are forced to sleep outside or in trucks, have no access to toilets and have to drink unfiltered water straight from nearby rivers.”
Many of these workers are reportedly underage. Authorities have attempted to raid the plantations to liberate workers from conditions that one Brazilian Labor Ministry official said “could be described as slavery.”
“The workers are treated as objects, worse than animals,” he said.
That’s not all, folks: The documentary also reports on footage circulated by animal-rights groups show the pigs that are used to make the gelatin for Haribo gummies “with open sores and abscesses living in indoor pens in their own excrement, and in some cases among their own dead.”
The two companies involved supplying the gelatin say they weren’t aware of these conditions and that measures for “species appropriate animal farming” were in place at the farms.
In a statement to Vice’s Munchies, Haribo expressed concern at these reports.
“We would like to emphasize that we are extremely concerned by some of the images shown on the consumer program broadcast on German TV channel ARD last week,” a Haribo spokesperson said. “The conditions on the pig farms and the Brazilian plantations shown are insupportable.”
Haribo says it will now be auditing its suppliers and has pledged to keep the public informed of what it finds.
“Should it transpire that urgent improvements are needed in this area, we will insist on their implementation and will not rest until these improvements have been implemented.”