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Trader Joe's Was Just Sued Over Harmful Toxins In Dark Chocolate

The litigation follows a shocking exposé of tainted sweets.

A New York man has filed a multi-million-dollar federal lawsuit against Trader Joe's over claims its dark chocolate bars contain dangerous heavy metals.

Reuters reports that the Hershey Co. is also facing litigation over similar claims about some of its dark chocolate products.

Both suits follow a recent Consumer Reports exposé that found dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in 28 popular brands of dark chocolate bars.

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The consumer watchdog specifically called out Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate 85% Cacao for containing high levels of both toxic metals, as well as Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao, which it found to contain a significant amount of lead. Both metals pose serious health risks, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Consumer Reports based its tests on California's maximum allowable dose level for both metals. It found Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao, for instance, to contain 192% of the allowable dose level for lead. The watchdog's study listed the allegedly tainted products in order of lead level specifically "because that heavy metal poses particular concerns and no amount of it is considered safe."

The study cited Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate as the worst offender, with a whopping 265% of the allowable level of lead.

Plaintiff Thomas Ferrante claimed in the suit that he purchased the Trader Joe's sweets after reading the labels and would have chosen differently if he knew about the toxins. "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," Ferrante said in the complaint. He's seeking at least $5 million in damages.

Trader Joe's has not yet commented on the lawsuit. It's unclear whether the popular retailer has removed the chocolates in question from its store shelves or not.

Chris Shott
Chris Shott is the Deputy Editor covering restaurants and groceries for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Chris