Ferrero has sacked the contractor at the heart of allegations by The Sun that workers in Romania as young as six were being exploited to make toys for Kinder Eggs.
In a statement issued on Friday (25 November), three days after the newspaper broke the story, the Italian confectionery maker announced it had “ordered the termination, with immediate effect, of any relationship with… Prolegis in Romania”.
The investigation launched in response to The Sun’s report had “not yet” found evidence of child labour in Ferrero’s Romanian operation, but “inconsistencies with Ferrero policies and contracts have nevertheless surfaced” and the inquiry was ongoing.
“The involvement of children, no matter if directly or indirectly, is strictly forbidden to all suppliers in all parts of the production process,” said the supplier.
It went on to say the unhygienic manufacturing conditions described by the tabloid did not correspond to its “strict quality regulations and standards”. All products, including the plastic parts of Kinder Egg, were “subject to the most stringent safety and quality checks,” read the statement, which was made available via a small news feed in the lower part of the Ferrero homepage (see below for full text). It had not appeared on the company’s main social media platforms at the time of writing.
Ferrero statement on child labor allegations in Romania
Following the allegations made by the British newspaper The Sun, Ferrero immediately initiated a thorough investigation. While the investigation continues, no evidence of child labor has been found to date. However, inconsistencies with Ferrero policies and contracts have nevertheless surfaced.
Ferrero has therefore ordered the termination, with immediate effect, of any relationship with the subcontractor Prolegis in Romania. In order not to penalize legitimate workers who have nothing to do with this, Ferrero is ensuring that they will not be unfairly affected.
The allegations made by The Sun contradict Ferrero Group’s strict quality, social and ethical requirements which all our contractual partners must comply with.
The involvement of children, no matter if directly or indirectly, is strictly forbidden to all suppliers in all parts of the production process. Every supplier must implement processes in order to verify the age of its staff, and must document this in its records. This is audited by SGS, who are the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. The last audit, in May 2016, confirmed that the Ferrero code was being strictly complied with.
The hygienic conditions described in The Sun article by no means correspond to Ferrero’s strict quality regulations and standards. All our products are subject to the most stringent safety and quality checks before being marketed. These include regular internal and external controls of the hygienic standards.
The Kinder surprise eggs are filled, under proper hygienic conditions, by staff in the plants. The production of the egg (both the chocolate and the filled yellow capsule) are in particular checked with regards to any potential microbiological contamination every 2 hours. Our own laboratories perform these checks.