Mars candy company does not have to include on labels that its candy may include products made with child or slave labor, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
The manufacturer “does not have a duty to disclose” the potential of child or slave labor, even though they are reprehensible, because they were not physical defects that affected the chocolate products, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.
The ruling rejected claims of unfair competition and false advertising under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
The class action sought to use California consumer protection law to require food makers to disclose, on product labels, that the products’ supply chain may involve child labor or slave labor.
“Regrettably, despite some efforts to eradicate the practices, child labor and slave labor are modern-day scourges, and manufactures that source materials from around the world may benefit from that illicit labor,” wrote Judge Wallace Tashima.
“Nonetheless, the California consumer protection laws do not obligate [Mars or others] to label their goods as possibly being produced by child or slave labor,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed by Robert Hodsdon to force Mars to tell consumers that Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans were produced using child labor, including children sold by their parents, kidnapped or trafficked to farmers.
Case: Hodsdon v. Mars, Inc., No. 16-15444