2 New York Lawsuits Are Targeting Trader Joe's For Harmful Toxins In Dark Chocolate

Turns out nothing is above legal controversy. Not even chocolate. According to CBS News, Trader Joe's is under fire for the amounts of lead and cadmium in the grocery chain's dark chocolate, as two lawsuits filed in New York at the beginning of January claim the levels are unsafe. One complaint accuses Trader Joe's of "ignor[ing] the health of the consuming public in pursuit of profit." The charges filed include "unjust enrichment" and "violating New York state general business regulations."

Plaintiff Tamakia Herd of New York City, claims Trader Joe's was purposefully dishonest in leaving information about the metal levels off of the packaging. Meanwhile, Thomas Ferrante of Long Island, the plaintiff in the other case, says that if the data had been on the wrappers, most consumers would have left the chocolate on the shelf.

The lawsuits come on the heels of a Consumer Reports analysis comparing the heavy metals found in two Trader Joe's dark chocolate bars to the "maximum allowable dose level[s]" for lead and cadmium in California. The site's scientists believe the state has some of the strictest standards in the nation. Per the Better Business Bureau, Trader Joe's is headquartered in California. The study found that Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar contained 192% of the permitted level of lead and 36% of the allowable cadmium level. The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate 85% Cacao bar from Trader Joe's contained 127% of the allowable dose of lead and 229% in the case of cadmium.

What does this all mean for you and does the internet care?

If you're a chocolate lover, it may be important to understand the risks associated with consuming higher levels of heavy metals in dark chocolate. Per As You Sow, an organization that works to protect California's standards, ingesting lead and cadmium can have adverse health effects, especially in children. The CDC says no level of lead consumption is safe for kids. Exposure may lead to neurological problems, including learning disorders. Cadmium can negatively impact bones, livers, and kidneys in addition to having neurological and developmental effects. On the flip side, Andrew Stolbach, a toxicologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, told NPR that California's standards are "very conservative." Stolbach argued that "the safety levels for lead and cadmium are set to be very protective, and going above them by a modest amount isn't something to be concerned about."

Trader Joe's customers reacted to the lawsuits over on Reddit."I'm fine with it. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I guess I'll just have to eat some lead along with my Dark Chocolate Lover's chocolate. Risk worth taking. (I mean I grew up in buildings with lead paint after all..)," wrote Redditor u/LJB1RD. On the other hand, u/Capt__Murphy seemed to agree that the metal levels should be disclosed on the packaging, writing, "I really don't like the secretiveness TJs has surrounding their suppliers. Lack of transparency really bothers me, especially when it comes to something I'm going to eat."