Dec 31, 2022

Hershey’s Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Dark Chocolate Contains Toxic Lead, Cadmium Levels

Posted by : Russell Maas

Class action lawsuit alleges Hershey’s dark chocolate contains toxic heavy metals, which were not disclosed to consumers.

Following a report that found many popular dark chocolate products contain toxic heavy metals, a class action lawsuit has been filed against The Hershey Company, over false and misleading marketing statements, which failed to disclose the health risks.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Christopher Lazazzaro in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York on December 28, seeking class action status to pursue damages against the Hershey Company for selling several brands of its dark chocolate products that contained high levels of lead and cadmium.

Lead exposure has long been linked to serious side effects that can cause long-term health consequences including nervous system injury, brain damage, seizures, growth or mental disabilities, as well as other severe health problems.

Cadmium is another toxic heavy metal that is ranked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the most hazardous substances. Cadmium is a known carcinogen that has been linked to increased risks of individuals developing human lung, prostate, and kidney cancers, and recently pancreatic cancer

Toxic Metals Found In Dark Chocolate

The lawsuit was filed after the results of independent testing by Consumer Reports Magazine were released on December 15, which found 23 different brands of dark chocolate by Hershey, Trader Joe’s, Godiva and several others contained toxic levels of lead, cadmium, or both.

Researchers used California’s Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADLs) for lead (0.5 Micrograms) and cadmium (4.1mcg), which the report claims are the most protective available standards.

Children diagnosed with lead poisoning after exposure to peeling or chipping lead paint in a rental home may be entitled to financial compensation and benefits.

According to the findings, Consumer Reports identified eight of the dark chocolate bars tested contained elevated levels of cadmium, 10 tested over allowable limits for lead, and five exceeded both lead and cadmium levels. Specifically, Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate exceeded the allowable lead limits by 265%, Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao tested 127% for lead and 229% for cadmium, and Godiva’s Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao tested for 146% lead.

The dark chocolate products found to contain both elevated levels of cadmium and lead included:

  • Theo Organic Pure Dark 70% Cocoa
  • Theo Organic Extra Dark Pure Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa
  • Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85%
  • Cacao and Lily’s Extremely Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa

The report stated dark chocolate typically contains greater volume of cacao, which can absorb cadmium from the soil. However, CR reported lead is likely introduced to the cacao beans after drying in the sun and collecting lead-filled dust.

Hershey Dark Chocolate Class Action Lawsuit

Following the release of the report earlier this month, Lazazzaro filed the lawsuit claiming The Hershey Company knew or should have known its Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, and Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa contained elevated levels of lead due to the manufacturers exclusive knowledge of ingredient sourcing and quality control testing data.

Lazazzaro claims rather than properly testing the products for excessive levels of potentially harmful and toxic heavy metals before offering the products to consumers, The Hershey Company charged a premium for its products and put profits before consumer safety.

In the complaint, Lazazzaro claims Hershey has engaged in deceptive and misleading business practices related to its marketing of the dark chocolate products, failing to provide adequate warnings or including lead and cadmium as ingredients on the products nutrition labels, which consumers rely on to make safe choices.

With Hershey being one of the largest chocolate manufacturer’s in the world, taking in approximately 8.9 billion in revenue in 2021, the lawsuit seeks class action status to represent the unknown amount of consumers who were deceived into paying a premium for contaminated Hershey’s products.

Tags: Cadmium, Cancer, Chocolate, Class Action, Heavy Metals, Hershey, Lead, Lead Exposure
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Russell Maas