Hershey Is Facing A Federal Lawsuit Over Lead Concerns

Consumer Reports is known for its independent product testing, but few tests by the consumer-oriented organization have caused more uproar than the recent revelation about the metal content in dark chocolate. In a report published on December 15, Consumer Reports revealed that of the 28 popular chocolate bars tested by its scientists, every one of them contained some amount of the heavy metals, lead and cadmium.

Even more concerning was the fact that 23 of the 28 bars contained a greater level of metal content than is safe to ingest daily for one-ounce servings, based on California's maximum allowable dose level (MADL). The outlet observed that while pregnant women and children are most at risk of developing health issues from the elevated metal content in these chocolate bars, this type of exposure can pose dangers for people of all ages. In a statement given to Tasting Table by the National Confectioners Association, however, the organization claimed that these products meet legal requirements and are still safe to eat.

But not all consumers share this sentiment, as, according to the BBC, one man has already filed suit against Hershey's, alleging that the company deceived its customers by not revealing the amount of metal in its products.

Details of the lawsuit filed against Hershey

According to the BBC, the Consumer Reports tests were referenced in the lawsuit filed by Christopher Lazazzaro against Hershey's. Lazazzaro is adamant that he would never have bought the brand's chocolate products had he known of the presence of the metals, and the potential health risks they posed. Fox Business reports that the possible class action complaint was lodged in federal court in New York state.

Lazazzaro, who lives in Central Islip on Long Island, refers specifically to three Hershey products in his lawsuit: Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, and two Lily's products (Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa, and Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa). Hershey acquired the Lily's brand in 2021 for over $400 million, according to Confectionery News, and notably, each of these three products tested high in metal content, per Consumer Reports. Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate, for example, contains 265% of California's maximum allowable dose level (MADL) for lead. Lily's Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa also topped California's MADL for lead (144%), while the company's other tested chocolate bar – Lily's Extreme Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa – tested too high for both cadmium (101%) and lead (143%).

Lazazzaro's lawsuit asks for $5 million dollars in compensatory damages, notes Fox Business, as well as additional recompense (minimum $500 each) for individual transactions.