Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe have launched an investigation into Trader Joe’s for allegedly selling two chocolate bars that contain levels of two heavy metals that exceed California’s maximum allowable dose.
The bars, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar and the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao bar, are part of ongoing concern over the presence of heavy metals in chocolates following on from the publication of the December 2022 Consumer Reports, which tested 28 chocolate bars and reporting finding concerning levels of cadmium and lead in several.
The report sparked great debate and response in the confectionery industry, as some were concerned by the levels – and others said argued that chocolate is still safe to eat and be enjoyed. The National Confectioners Association (NCA), whose three-year report with organisation As You Sow was quoted by Consumer Reports, argued in a response that chocolate is still safe. The three-year investigative study looked into levels of lead and cadmium in cocoa and chocolate and suggested ways of reducing this.
“Chocolate and cocoa are safe to eat and can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) guidelines cited in the Consumer Reports study are not food safety standards,” the NCA said in a statement. “An expert investigation conducted through our prior California Proposition 65 settlement concluded that cadmium and lead are present in cocoa and chocolate due to soil and that bean cleaning during processing cocoa beans reduces lead and cadmium in chocolate products.”
According to Consumer Reports, the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar contained 192% of the maximum allowable amount of lead and one ounce of the Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao bar contained 127% of the maximum allowable amount of lead and 229% of the maximum allowable amount of cadmium. Fears of these high levels are linked to concerns that “long-term exposure” of consumption of heavy metals leads to health issues such as nervous system problems, kidney damage and cancer.
In light of the concerns, the Schubert Firm is investigating whether Trader Joe’s failure to warn consumers about the high levels of lead and cadmium in these chocolate bars is false and misleading in violation of state and federal laws.
Stay up-to-date on the latest industry news and exclusives in our magazine.