Trader Joe’s is Sued over Lead, Cadmium Levels in Dark Chocolate

By Jonathan Stempel | January 5, 2023

Trader Joe’s was sued on Wednesday by a consumer who accused the grocery chain of misleading and endangering shoppers by selling dark chocolate that contains harmful levels of lead and cadmium.

The proposed class action was filed in the federal court in Central Islip, New York, one week after a similar lawsuit was filed there by the same four law firms against Hershey Co HSY.N.

Both lawsuits were filed after Consumer Reports last month said 23 of the 28 dark chocolate bars it tested contained potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium or both heavy metals for people who eat more than one ounce of chocolate a day.

Consumer Reports said it found Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao high in lead, and Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao high in lead and cadmium.

In Wednesday’s lawsuit, the plaintiff Thomas Ferrante said he bought both products after reading their labels, and would not have done so or would have paid less had he known their contents.

“High levels of lead and cadmium in food products is material to reasonable consumers, because these chemicals pose serious health risk, even in small dosages,” he said.

Trader Joe’s, based in Monrovia, California, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Some studies suggest that the antioxidants and relatively low levels of sugar in dark chocolate could help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Ferrante lives in Nassau County, New York, as does the plaintiff in the Hershey case.

Both lawsuits seek at least $5 million of damages, including at least $500 per transaction under New York law.

The case is Ferrante v Trader Joe’s Co et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 23-00046.

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