Trader Joe's is being sued by a consumer who claims the grocery store is misleading and not telling shoppers that its dark chocolate products contain harmful levels of heavy metals.
In a lawsuit filed Jan. 4 obtained by TODAY.com, the New York consumer says Trader Joe's fails to disclose that the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao and Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao contain lead and cadmium.
“Lead is a dangerous and harmful chemical when consumed, especially by pregnant women and children. Scientists agree that there is no level of lead that is safe,” the lawsuit states. “Cadmium is also a dangerous and harmful chemical when consumed. Cadmium is used in many products, including batteries, pigments, metal coatings, and plastics, and it is found in cigarette smoke.”
The lawsuit also cites the Consumer Reports' investigation published Dec. 15 that reported that several dark chocolate bars from a variety of brands had cadmium and lead in all of them, including the Trader Joe's products.
James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports said in the investigation that the 28 products they tested didn’t have extremely high levels of the heavy metals, but most had levels high enough to be a health concern.
Consumer Reports used the 2001 California benchmarks for allowable dose level (MADL) in the investigation.
However, the National Confectioners Association, the industry trade group, countered that chocolate and cocoa are safe to eat.
“(They) can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries,” Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesperson for the association, told TODAY.com at the time.
The consumer who filed the lawsuit is asking for monetary damages, including $550 per transaction.
Trader Joe’s did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.
NBC News also reported that the same law firms representing the New York consumer announced a similar action against Hershey’s.
A spokesman for the National Confectioners Association (NCA) declined to comment on the lawsuits but said in an email to NBC News that the California-based allowable dose benchmarks that Consumer Reports used in its testing “are not food safety standards.”
“Chocolate and cocoa are safe to eat and can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries,” the NCA said. “The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com