The Hershey Company is being sued after failing to disclose that its dark chocolate products contain high levels of the heavy metals lead and cadmium.
On Wednesday, Christopher Lazazzaro filed a class action lawsuit against the candy company in the eastern district of New York’s U.S. District Court.
Lazazzaro accused Hershey of misleading consumers after new research showed excessive levels of lead and cadmium in three of its dark chocolate bars.
Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, Lily’s Extreme Dark Chocolate with 85% cocoa and Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate with 70% cocoa all contained high levels of heavy metals.
Lazazzaro claimed if he were aware of the heavy metals in the chocolate bars, he would not have purchased the products.
In the lawsuit, Lazazzaro argued that by failing to disclose the presence of lead and cadmium, Hershey’s “advertising and marketing campaign for the products is false, deceptive, and misleading.”
“Consumers rely on [Hershey] to be truthful regarding the ingredients,” the lawsuit stated.
Adding, “People are concerned with what is in the food that they are putting into their bodies, as well as parents and caregivers being concerned with what they are feeding to the children in their care.”
The lawsuit accuses Hershey of violating New York laws prohibiting deceptive business practices and breaking merchant warranty laws upheld in other states.
On Dec. 15, Consumer Reports revealed it tested 28 dark chocolate bars for lead and cadmium. The magazine claimed 23 of those dark chocolate products, including bars from Hershey, contained “comparatively higher levels” of heavy metals.
“For 23 of the bars, eating just an ounce (28g) a day would put an adult over a level that public health authorities and CR’s experts say may be harmful for at least one of those heavy metals,” the analysis stated.
Consuming lead can cause damage to the brain, kidneys and other organs. The consumption of cadmium can damage the heart and liver, weaken bones and cause other internal issues.
Lazazzaro is seeking $5 million in damages from Hershey in the class action lawsuit.