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A Federal court filing in California reveal a Starbucks Corp. customer settled her claims alleging the coffeehouse chain misrepresented hot chocolate as being made from “ethically sourced” ingredients despite the use of child slave labour.

In May last year, a lawsuit was filed in California against  Starbucks for the labelling of their hot chocolate products, which described them as ‘Ethically Sourced’. Plaintiff Lori Myers argued that it was not possible for the company to make that claim since their suppliers purchased cocoa that contained blends from unknown sources, a practice known as ‘mass balancing’. The terms of the settlement were not available.

  • Lori Myers alleged Starbucks’ Hot Chocolate, Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC’s Dove Dark Chocolate, and Quaker Oats Co.’s Chocolate Chip Chewy Bars were portrayed as produced without child slave labour.
  • Myers challenges Starbucks labels that describe its hot chocolate as “made with ethically sourced cocoa.”. She alleges child slavery is endemic to the chocolate trade.
  • Myers challenged the label statement that Mars buys cocoa “traceable from farms into our factory. She alleges only 24% of Mars’ chocolate is traceable.
  • This representation isn’t misleading because, as Myers conceded, Quaker Oats does partner with Cocoa Horizons, the court said.

Last year, the US District Court for the Central District of California allowed the proposed class action to advance, saying Lori Myers raised viable claims.

  • Myers challenged labels that described Starbucks hot chocolate as “made with ethically sourced cocoa.” She alleged that child slavery is endemic to the chocolate trade, that it’s therefore difficult or impossible to produce chocolate without labour from child slaves, and that …

Photo by Hamza Inayat on Unsplash


  • Nick Baskett


    Nick Baskett is the editor in Chief at Bartalks. He holds a diploma from the Financial Times as a Non Executive Director and works as a consultant across multiple industries. Nick has owned multiple businesses, including an award-winning restaurant and coffee shop in North Macedonia.

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