A federal court in New York has received a lawsuit alleging that chocolate manufacturer Hershey has been selling products containing dangerous levels of lead and cadmium. The suit, brought by Christopher Lazzaro, claims that the company deceived consumers by failing to disclose the quantities of the metals in three dark chocolate bars. Lazzaro asserts that he would not have purchased the products if he had been aware of their contents. The suit references a study by Consumer Reports, which tested 28 dark chocolate bars for lead and cadmium and found that 23 of them, including chocolate from Hershey, Godiva, and Lindt, contained “comparatively higher levels” of the metals. The magazine claimed that consuming just one ounce of these bars per day could potentially expose adults to harmful levels of the metals. Lazzaro is seeking at least $5 million in damages from Hershey in the proposed class action suit. Hershey and Lazzaro’s lawyers have not yet commented on the case.
In addition to the allegations of misleading consumers and failure to disclose the presence of heavy metals in their products, the lawsuit against Hershey also claims that the company was aware of the high levels of lead and cadmium in their dark chocolate bars. It cites the Consumer Reports study, which found that the Hershey’s Special Dark bar and Lily’s 70% bar contained high levels of lead, while the Lily’s 85% bar contained high levels of both lead and cadmium. The suit argues that Hershey should have known about the presence of these metals, as they are required to test their products for safety and quality.
While some studies have suggested that the antioxidants and lower sugar content in dark chocolate may have potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, the high levels of heavy metals present in these products could pose a significant health risk. Nutritionist Sheba Majumdar points out that any food can contain heavy metals if they are present in high concentrations in the soil, but adds that there are currently no laws requiring all food batches to be tested for toxins before being sold to consumers.
The lawsuit seeks class action status, meaning that it could potentially represent the interests of all consumers who purchased the affected chocolate bars. Christopher Lazzaro is seeking at least $5 million in damages from Hershey, claiming that he would not have purchased the products or would have paid less for them if he had been aware of the high levels of heavy metals. Both Hershey and Lazzaro’s lawyers have not yet commented on the case.