Trader Joe's Is Facing An Investigation Over Lead In Its Chocolate

Is anything we love safe? Apparently not, if allegations over two Trader Joe's chocolate items are to be believed. According to a press release, the cult-favorite grocery store, beloved for its affordable products, cheerful shopping atmosphere, and fiercely innovative approach to condiments and prepared foods alike, has come under fire in California for selling chocolate with lead and cadmium levels may exceed the state allowance.

The two products in question are the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar and the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate 85% Cacao bar, which were tested as part of a Consumer Reports investigation in December 2022. The 72% Cacao bar was revealed to contain 192% of the maximum allowable amount of lead, while the 85% Cacao bar was shown in the same study to have 127% of the maximum allowable amount of lead, and 229% of the maximum allowable amount of cadmium.

Per the statement sent to Tasting Table, exposure to heavy metals like lead and cadmium, even in small doses, is known to be associated with risks for "cancer, developmental problems, nervous system problems, hypertension, immune system suppression, kidney damage, and reproductive issues." Who would have thought that your favorite afternoon pick-me-up could possibly be harming you?

Consumer information is being collected for a possible lawsuit

While Trader Joe's is not yet being sued over these allegations, they are under investigation by the San Francisco law firm Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP, and the firm is collecting consumer information for a potential class action lawsuit.

Trader Joe's is not the only company that has recently faced accusations of harmful lead and cadmium levels in its chocolate. In the same Consumer Reports investigation, big chocolate manufacturers like Hershey's, Dove, and Lindt were also revealed to make products with high levels of heavy metals. In fact, 23 out of 28 chocolate bars studied did not meet California state requirements for lead and cadmium.

Researchers found that cadmium can actually get into cacao plants long before they are harvested and manufactured, leaching into the plant through the soil and accumulating in the beans. Lead from dust and dirt, meanwhile, collects on the outer shell of cacao pods and can contaminate cacao beans while they are being processed. Because more cocoa powder means potentially more heavy metals, dark chocolate is usually at higher risk than milk chocolate for contamination.

What Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP is investigating is whether or not Trader Joe's failure to warn customers about levels of these heavy metals in their chocolate can be considered false and misleading according to state and federal law. If you have purchased either of the Trader Joe's chocolate bars under review, you can reach out to the firm to request a free legal consultation.