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Haribo launches probe into 'inhumane working conditions' in Brazil

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Berlin (AFP)

German sweets maker Haribo said it had launched an internal investigation after a TV documentary alleged Brazilian workers supplying ingredients for their confectionary suffer inhumane conditions.

"We have tasked a group of independent, accredited and certified auditors with conducting a full investigation of our carnauba wax supply chain and are currently awaiting the findings of the investigation," the company said in a statement Thursday.

The company has faced criticism in the German and international press after public broadcaster ARD alleged in mid-October that workers on carnauba wax planations in Brazil, among them minors, suffered under high temperatures and were forced to sleep outside, often without access to clean drinking water.

Haribo uses carnauba wax as a coating agent in its candy.

"We have been in contact with our direct carnauba wax supplier in Brazil to demand that the entire supply chain, including its preliminary suppliers, all the way down to the carnauba wax producing farms, is laid bare and reviewed to ensure standards are upheld at all relevant facilities," beginning this week, the company said.

The company said it would hold discussions with Brazil's labour ministry and other government officials as part of the investigation.

Haribo also said it would launch an additional internal probe to respond to allegations in the same documentary about the mistreatment of pigs on German farms used for gelatine production.

The animals live in their own excrement and are covered in bruises, according to the documentary.

"As a company whose mission it is to bring joy to children and adults alike, reports of animal cruelty in our supply chain are unacceptable," the company said.

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