The Hershey Company and Trader Joe's are facing new lawsuits accusing them of misleading consumers who buy their dark chocolate products.
Two dark chocolate consumers in New York, who are both represented by the same four law firms, filed lawsuits on December 28 and December 15 against Hershey and Trader Joe's, respectively.
Trader Joe's and Hershey were found to have the highest levels of both lead and lead in their products by Consumer Reports.
The two companies are accused of deceptive practices by not telling consumers the levels of lead and cadmium in their products, and they are also accused of misleading consumers about the safety of their products.
According to the lawsuits, Hershey and Trader Joe's would have known of the levels in their products as they were being developed and tested and therefore could have disclosed them to consumers.
The proposed class-action lawsuits accuse the two companies of violating laws related to deceptive trade practices, false advertising, breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment, and ask for jury trials to award damages that include awarding class members more than $500 per transaction.
Requests for comment from Hershey and Trader Joe's have not been answered.
In both lawsuits, the consumers argued that they relied on the marketing and information on the labels. The products are marketed as containing only dark chocolate ingredients, but not as containing any lead or other harmful metals.
Milk chocolate has less cacao and more sugar than dark chocolate, so there are higher levels of lead and cadmium in it. Consumer Reports suggests that there are steps that can be taken to lower the levels of heavy metal that can be found in chocolate. Children and pregnant people can face health concerns due to high levels of exposure to both lead and Cadmium. The publication advised people to limit their intake of dark chocolate with higher heavy metal levels so that the small amounts taken in from a variety of foods don't add up
The rate was 121%. Consumer Reports found more lead in Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate 85% compared to the maximum dose allowed under California law. The maximum allowable amount of the metal in that product was less than 2%. The high levels of both metals were found in the Extremely Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa, which is owned by Hershey. The highest lead level of any chocolate was found in Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate.
The bars made by Mast, Taza, Valrhona and Ghirardelli are some of the safest dark chocolate products on the market. All of them have levels that are below the maximum allowed in California.
Attorneys behind the lawsuits have not yet responded to a request for comment on whether they will file litigation against other companies. Lindt, Dove, Godiva, Green & Black's, Beyond Good, Equal Exchange, Sharffen Berger, Alter Eco, and Tony's were all found to have high levels of lead in their products.
There could be lead and Cadmium in dark chocolate.
Hershey is being sued by a New York man.
The center for disease control and prevention has a Cadmium Factsheet.
There are health problems caused by lead.