Haribo Gummy Bears Made Using Slave Labour, Documentary Claims

The confectionery company has also been accused of links to animal cruelty.

A German documentary has accused gummy bear manufacturer Haribo of using modern slave labour and animal cruelty to make its products, the New York Daily News reports.

According to VICE 'The Haribo Check' -- shown by German public broadcaster ADR -- alleged that the manufacturer was unknowingly dependent on modern-day slave labour workers and animals that are subjected to punishing conditions by the company it sources its ingredients from.

The documentary alleges that carnauba wax -- which is used to give the lollies like gummy bears a glossy sheen -- is being produced by some of the poorest workers in Brazil who are paid 40 Brazilian Real (A$16) a day and are often forced to sleep outside or in trucks.

According to Metro, the film claims that the working conditions on the carnauba plantations are so poor that Brazilian police occasionally carry out raids to free the workers.

Footage is also shown in the film of an unnamed pig farm where the animals are reportedly used by Gelita, one of Haribo's suppliers responsible for producing gelatin, DW reports.

The animals are shown living in putrid conditions with DW reporting that they are left with open sores and abscesses and in some cases among their own dead.

HuffPost has previously reported on the way in which gelatin, a protein obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments and/or bones from pigs (or cows), is made.

In a series of statements, Haribo has said that it is taking the allegations "very seriously" however it said that it does not know "whether the plantations shown are plants that work as suppliers to our suppliers" as the documentary "does not name the exact sources in the reportage".

"The conditions in the shown pig farm and in the Brazilian plantations are not acceptable," it said in a statement.

"We are already working to examine our supply chain beyond our direct suppliers.

"If it becomes clear that improvements are urgently required, we will be able to warn you about this and will not rest until improvements are implemented."

The company also said that regardless of whether the allegations prove to be true, they "will use the reportage ... as an opportunity to deepen the discussions with our suppliers again".