Trader Joe's Still Has Its Controversial Dark Chocolate On Shelves

At the tail end of 2022, news broke that some dark chocolates might contain heavy metals. Surprisingly, contamination by these heavy metals — lead and cadmium — can occur as early in the chocolate-production process as when the cocoa beans are still on the tree, according to NPR. Cadmium, which exists naturally in soil, finds its way into the beans as they grow, whereas lead contamination usually happens "during the drying, fermenting, and transport phases."

Regardless of how "natural" this contamination is, it can still prove dangerous. Even when consumed in small amounts, cadmium and lead can build up in the body over time, causing kidney disease, lung damage, and central nervous system defects, per the CDC.

With all this in mind, people were horrified to learn which dark chocolate brands were the worst offenders. Sadly, Consumer Reports found Trader Joe's 85% cacao dark chocolate to be high in both cadmium and lead, but the scariest part may be that the grocer still has this chocolate on its shelves.

What is going on with Trader Joe's controversial dark chocolate?

You might not have noticed if you don't regularly shop at Trader Joe's, but the chain has yet to remove its dark chocolate from store shelves following the news about heavy metal contamination. According to Eat This, Not That!, although the affected chocolate bars have been taken off the Trader Joe's website, they are still available in stores without any kind of warning or notice.

As such, the chain now faces at least two lawsuits. Class action suit Ferrante v. Trader Joe's Company accuses the chain of "[failing] to disclose on the products' packaging that the products contain lead and cadmium." Similarly, Herd v. Trader Joe's Company states that the chain has an obligation to inform and educate customers of any potentially dangerous ingredients. The suit also charged Trader Joe's with "reckless regard for its customers' health and well-being."

Lawsuits and company reassurances aside, it's probably in everyone's best interests to avoid Trader Joe's 85% and 72% dark chocolates for the time being. Instead, if you really love dark chocolate, you may choose brands like Ghirardelli, Taza, Mast, or Valrhona.