The in-house brand of dark chocolate sold at Trader Joe’s contains harmful levels of toxic metals including lead and cadmium, alleged two separate lawsuits filed against the popular grocery store chain.
Two New Yorkers filed separate lawsuits against Trader Joe’s for their “continuing failure to disclose to consumers that” its products were unsafe, according to court filings.
One plaintiff, Tamakia Herd, filed suit in Manhattan federal court alleging that Trader Joe’s knowingly continued selling two products that were compromised — the “Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao” bar and the “Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao” bar.
The other plaintiff, Thomas Ferrante, who is represented by the same attorneys as Herd, filed his lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court.
Both lawsuits cited a Consumer Reports story from last month which found that more than two-dozen top-name brands including Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Godiva, Ghirardelli, Lily’s, and Green & Black’s all sold dark chocolate which contained varying levels of cadmium and lead.
Last week, the attorneys representing Ferrante filed a separate lawsuit against Hershey’s on behalf of another Nassau County resident.
The suit demanded the company pay at least $5 million in damages over the “serious health risk” posed by heavy metals in its “Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate.”
In 2001, California passed Proposition 65, a law which set a maximum allowable daily level (MADL) of lead (0.5 micrograms) and cadmium (4.1 micrograms) in foods.
Consumer Reports tested an ounce of 28 different chocolate bars. It found that Trader Joe’s “Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao” contained 192% of the allowable MADL under California law.
Trader Joe’s “Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao” was found to have excessive levels of both lead (127% of MADL) and cadmium (229%), according to Consumer Reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cadmium is a “cancer-causing agent.”
“Exposure to low levels of cadmium in air, food, water, and particularly in tobacco smoke over time may build up cadmium in the kidneys and cause kidney disease and fragile bones,” according to the CDC.
Lead exposure has been linked to several conditions including anemia, weakness, and kidney and brain damage. Children are especially susceptible to cognitive impairment, lower IQ, and behavioral problems if they fall victim to lead poisoning, according to health experts.
The Post has sought comment from Trader Joe’s and The Hershey Company.
Dark chocolate, which is considered a healthier alternative to milk chocolate, is made up mostly of cacao, the bean which is said to offer vast health benefits including lower blood pressure, improvement of blood flow to the heart and brain, and prevention of blood clots.
But the cacao plant absorbs cadmium through the soil as it grows while the outer shell of the cacao beans are found to contain traces of lead after they are harvested.