The lawsuit claims that several Hershey’s chocolate products contain high concentrations of lead and cadmium.
A recently filed lawsuit alleges that the Hershey Co. failed to disclose the presence of lead and other heavy metals in its chocolate products.
According to National Public Radio, the proposed class action lawsuit was filed by New York resident Christopher Lazazzaro.
Lazazzaro’s complaint was lodged scarcely two weeks after Consumer Reports released the results of a detailed investigation on heavy metals in chocolate products.
Consumer Reports’ investigation detected heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, in dark chocolate bars produced by Hershey Co., Ghirardelli, and Lindt.
Now, Lazazzaro is seeking an estimated $5 million in damages from Hershey, alleging that its advertising and marketing campaigns for dark chocolate bars contained “false, deceptive, and misleading” material.
Attorneys for Lazazzaro say that, had their client known that several of Hershey’s dark chocolate bars contained heavy metals, he most likely would not have purchased them.
“Consumers reasonably rely on the marketing and information on Defendant’s labels in making purchasing decisions,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “By marketing the Products as containing only dark chocolate ingredients, and not disclosing the presence of cadmium and lead, Defendant misleads reasonable consumers.”
Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association, told National Public Radio that, in spite of Consumer Reports’ allegations, the levels of cadmium and lead in Hershey’s products are neither unreasonable nor unsafe.
“The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements, and the levels provided to us by Consumer Reports testing are well under the limits established by our settlement [with As You Sow],” Gindlesperger said.
The National Confectioners Association, notes N.P.R., reached a settlement with As You Sow in 2018.
As You Sow, an organization that seeks the enforcement of California Proposition 65—a state law requiring that product manufacturers warn consumers about potential exposures to cancer-causing chemicals—established maximal permissible levels for both lead and cadmium.
If the permissible levels are surpassed, product manufactures must include warning labels.
Nevertheless, attorneys for Lazazzaro note that high levels of cadmium, for example, can cause lung cancer and irreversible reproductive injuries.
“High levels of lead and cadmium in food products is material to reasonable consumers, because these chemicals pose serious health risk, even in small doses,” lawyers wrote.
Reuters reports that the chocolate bars cited in the class action are Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, and Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% cocoa.
Hershey bought Lily’s for $425 million in June 2021.