Plaintiffs represented by Bursor & Fisher P.A. and Laukaitis Law Firm LLC have filed two class action lawsuits against Mars Inc. and Trader Joe’s Company alleging that the defendants’ dark chocolate products contain unsafe levels of lead and cadmium.
The complaint against Mars was filed in the Eastern District of New York by New York resident Arlene Millman. The complaint states that for years Millman has purchased Mars’ Dove Promises Deeper Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao from local retailers.
The complaint against Trader Joe’s was filed in the Northern District of California by Lillian Brennessel, a resident of California. The complaint states Brennessel has about one bar of dark chocolate a week and has purchased Trader Joe’s “Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao” bar and “The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao” bar from the grocery chain.
Both complaints state that in December 2022, Consumer Reports published a report which found that both Mars’ Chocolate and Trader Joe’s Chocolate had high enough levels of lead and cadmium that “eating just an ounce a day would put an adult over a level that public health authorities and [Consumer Reports’] experts say may be harmful.”
Further, the complaints argue the defendants could have and should have made their chocolate products with lower levels of the heavy metals because five of the 28 chocolate bars tested by Consumer Reports were below the maximum allowable dose level of lead and cadmium.
The complaints purport that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium pose a significant safety risk to consumers because they can cause irreversible damage to brain development, cancer and other serious health problems.
The plaintiffs argue they and similarly situated consumers are injured by the defendants’ omissions concerning the presence of heavy metals. The plaintiffs argue no reasonable consumer would have known about the presence of the heavy metals and that the defendants stood idly by with a reckless disregard for its consumers’ health while other companies in the industry have adopted methods to limit heavy metals in their dark chocolates.
The Mars lawsuit alleges violation of New York’s General Business Law and unjust enrichment and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney’s fees and costs.
The Trader Joe’s lawsuit alleges violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and unjust enrichment and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney’s fees and costs.