Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tests High in Cadmium, Lead
by Brian Eckert
Grocery chain Trader Joe’s is known for its high-quality prepared foods and tasty snacks sold at great prices. But some varieties of the company’s dark chocolate were found to contain high levels of the toxic heavy metals cadmium and lead, drawing a class action lawsuit from Milberg attorneys. Anyone who purchased Trader Joe’s dark chocolate may be automatically eligible to join this lawsuit and recover compensation.
What’s Really in Your Dark Chocolate?
Americans love chocolate. Twenty percent of us eat chocolate every day. Half of us would give up alcohol and social media for a week for a chance to win a year’s supply of chocolate, according to a survey commissioned by Lily’s Sweets. Lily’s found that many Americans aren’t willing to give up chocolate, despite 4 out of 5 U.S. adults saying they are reducing their sugar intake.
Dark chocolate, which is higher in cacao and lower in sugar than milk or white chocolate, may be an answer to this chocolate conundrum. It is also a source of beneficial chemicals such as copper, iron, flavanols, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. These properties have led to dark chocolate’s reputation as a “healthier” chocolate.
In Consumer Reports testing, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao landed on the “high in lead” category, while its The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao tested high for both cadmium and lead.
But a recent Consumer Reports study undermines the perceived health benefits of dark chocolate, finding that many popular brands contain high levels of cadmium and lead. These heavy metals pose serious health risks, even in small dosages.
Lead poisoning can occur when lead accumulates in the body over time. The Mayo Clinic warns that lead is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and children, although scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead in the human body. Chronic exposure to cadmium can damage the bones, lungs, and kidneys.
Lead and Cadmium Detected in Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate
Trader Joe’s is one of the largest grocery chains in the U.S., with estimated annual sales of around $14 billion.
The more than 500 Trader Joe’s locations nationwide offer plenty of chocolate treats, from peanut butter cups and chocolate covered almonds to cookies and chocolate bars. But Consumer Reports detected cadmium and lead in two dark chocolate products sold at the iconic chain: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao and Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao.
CR used California’s Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for lead and cadmium when analyzing the heavy metal content of 28 dark chocolate bars, including Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. CR’s assessment found that:
- Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao product contained 192% of the MADL of lead, placing it in the “high in lead” category.
- Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao product contained 127% of the MADL of lead and 229% of the MADL of cadmium, placing it in the “high in both lead & cadmium” category.
Lawsuit: Trader Joe’s Deceived Plaintiff and Class Members
Consumer Reports says that lead and cadmium can get into dark chocolate in different ways. However, Trader Joe’s has a duty to truthfully report ingredients on product labeling. Concealing the cadmium and lead content of their dark chocolate harms consumers, violates New York law, and unjustly enriches Trader Joe’s, according to Milberg’s class action lawsuit.
Defendants knew and could not be unaware of the existence of lead and cadmium in the Products. Defendants source the ingredients and manufacture the Products, and have exclusive knowledge of the quality control testing on the Products and the ingredients contained therein.
The plaintiff in the case purchased dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s on multiple occasions. He read the products’ labels and had no reason to believe they contained cadmium and lead. Because the presence of these heavy metals in the chocolate was not disclosed to him, he claims that he lost money.
He filed a class action lawsuit against Trader Joe’s in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeking to establish the following consumer classes:
- All consumers who purchased Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao or Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao (“the Products”) anywhere in the United States during the relevant statute of limitations.
- All consumers who purchased the Products in the state of New York at any time during the relevant statute of limitations.
Milberg Is a Leading Consumer Protection Firm
If the Trader Joe’s dark chocolate lawsuit results in a verdict or settlement, class members may be eligible to recover monetary damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Eligible class members don’t need to hire an atttorney. Milberg is representing the class on a contingency-fee basis. We’ve been filing class action lawsuits for more than 50 years and have recovered more than $50 billion for our clients.