Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Contains Heavy Metals, Milberg Lawsuit Claims

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January 20, 2023

by Brian Eckert

Americans eat approximately 10 pounds of chocolate per year. Dark chocolate is preferred by many consumers due to its potential health benefits, but according to Consumer Reports, there is a dark side to dark chocolate: the presence of heavy metals cadmium and lead.

If you purchased certain Hershey’s dark chocolate products, you may be eligible to join a recently filed Milberg class action lawsuit and recover money damages.

U.S. Chocolate Industry

U.S. chocolate consumption totals around 3 billion pounds per year. Nearly 90% of Americans say they have purchased chocolate candy in the previous 3 months. The U.S. chocolate and confectionary consumer industry is worth approximately $2.8 trillion.

Milk chocolate is the preferred chocolate of Americans, but dark chocolate, which has lower sugar content and more antioxidants than milk chocolate, is often considered “healthier.” Dark chocolate with a cacao percentage of 71 – 75% is the most popular dark chocolate style.

The Hershey’s Company is the leading U.S. chocolate manufacturer in terms of market share. Hershey’s acquired Lily’s Sweets, a confectionary brand known for its low-sugar products, in 2021.

CR Finds Lead and Cadmium in Hershey’s Dark Chocolate

Whether dark chocolate is truly “healthy” is debatable. Not open to debate, however, is that the consumption of heavy metals like cadmium and lead is unhealthy. Both metals are linked to numerous health problems in adults and children. And both have been found in more than two dozen dark chocolate bars tested by Consumer Reports.

Among the dark chocolate brands that CR tested for heavy metals are Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, and Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa. CR found that:

  • Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate and Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa are high in lead.
  • Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa is high in both lead and cadmium.

CR’s results indicate dark chocolates with comparatively higher levels of cadmium and lead. Since there are no federal limits for cadmium and lead in food, CR used the maximum allowable dose level (MADL) for California.

  • Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate contained 265% of the MADL of lead.
  • Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa product contained 144% of the MADL of lead.
  • Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa product contained 143% of the MADL of lead and 101% of the MADL of cadmium.

There is no level of lead that is safe. When lead builds up in the body, it can lead to lead poisoning. The Mayo Clinic warns that even low levels of lead exposure can cause serious health problems over time.

Chronic exposure to cadmium can lead to cancer and organ system toxicity, including damage to the skeletal, urinary, reproductive, cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems.

Class Allegations and How to Join the Lawsuit

Milberg’s class action lawsuit maintains that Hershey’s marketing of these dark chocolate products is false, deceptive, and misleading because it does not disclose the products’ high levels of lead and cadmium.

Consumers had no way of knowing about heavy metals in Hershey’s dark chocolate, the lawsuit states. They relied on the company for quality control testing and truthful ingredient reporting.

Defendant had exclusive knowledge of the lead and cadmium levels in the Products, and Plaintiff and the Class could not have known about this risk.

The plaintiff in the case did not believe the Hershey’s products he purchased contained lead and cadmium. Had he known that they contained heavy metals, he would not have bought them, or would not have paid the amount that he did. The products that he purchased were worth less than what he paid for them. As a result, the plaintiff lost money due to Hershey’s unlawful conduct.

A nationwide class of the following consumers is sought in the class action complaint:

  • All consumers who purchased Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, or Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa in the United States during the relevant statute of limitations.

Milberg: A Leading Consumer Protection Firm

Do you meet the class criteria? You could be entitled to compensation. You do not have to hire a lawyer. Milberg attorneys are representing the class on a contingency basis.

The lawsuit is pending certification in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Notices should be sent to eligible consumers if and when the court allows the case to proceed.

For the latest Milberg lawsuit news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To discuss a possible class action claim, contact us.