In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery."
Meanwhile, the gelatin that goes into Haribo sweets comes from suppliers to the agri-giant Westfleisch, whose pigs are pen-raised, with open sores and abscesses, wallowing in excrement, crammed up against animals that had died of mistreatment.
In response to the documentary, Westfleisch said it was "not aware" of any violations of German animal cruelty laws at its farms. Gelita said it supported all measures for "species-appropriate animal farming." Gelita also claimed that the pigskin it used came "exclusively from healthy animals that are slaughtered in approved slaughterhouses and are subject to examinations."
In response to the ARD's documentary, Haribo offered a statement saying that they were not aware of a "violation of our guidelines" but that it would "proactively" pursue the issues with its suppliers.
"We are a company that wants to bring joy to children and adults," the statement added. "We can therefore not accept the disregard of social and ethical standards."
Haribo pledged to examine conditions along its entire supply chain in an effort to uncover abuses. The Bonn-based firm added that it did not know where the footage in the pig farms had been recorded, or whether this was one of Haribo's direct suppliers. The company said it had asked the broadcaster to supply it with more information, and that "in principle, everyone in society must think about how to deal with species-appropriate animal farming. We are committed to that and are aware of our responsibility."