"I don't want to feel that while I'm enjoying the chocolate the children who made this responsible are being treated like slaves," Engel said Monday at a Capitol Hill news conference.
Engel and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the industry told them it's backing away from a deal to fix this problem.
But Chocolate Manufacturers Association spokeswoman Susan Smith insists the industry will meet a July deadline to address its child labor practices. Smith said she was "puzzled and surprised" by charges that chocolate makers are not abiding by the pact.
A 2001 protocol called for the industry to join international labor and other groups in monitoring child labor in the Ivory Coast and other cocoa-producing countries of West Africa.
Harkin said negotiations with the industry have "nearly collapsed" and that the goal of a public accounting of labor practices in cocoa-growing countries by July will not be met. He said human rights activists estimate that as many of 90 percent of cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast use forced child labor.
"The chocolate companies have the leverage and clout to stop this suffering. But if corporate responsibility is lacking, Congress will be obliged to act," Harkin said.
Smith said the industry has met every deadline established under the protocol and intends to meet the July 1 deadline. She said a large-scale test program for cocoa farm labor monitoring is already under way in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which is the source of more than 40 percent of the world's cocoa beans.