Lindt- and Godiva-Brand Dark Chocolate Bars Contain Dangerous Levels of Lead and Cadmium, Class Actions Claim
Harkavy v. Lindt & Sprüngli (North America), Inc.
Filed: January 10, 2023 ◆§ 4:23-cv-00121-DMR
A California resident has filed a class action lawsuit accusing Lindt & Sprüngli of failing to warn consumers that some of its dark chocolate bars contain dangerous levels of lead and cadmium.
A California resident has filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Lindt & Sprüngli and Godiva Chocolatier of failing to warn consumers that some of their dark chocolate bars contain dangerous levels of lead and cadmium.
According to the complaints, the companies have failed to alert consumers that the Lindt-brand Excellence Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa and Excellence Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa bars as well as the Godiva-brand Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar contain or are at risk of containing “unsafe” levels of the heavy metals.
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The lawsuits charge that “as companies across the industry have adopted methods to limit heavy metals in their dark chocolates,” the defendants have continued their “concealment” of the dark chocolate products’ potentially hazardous contents at the expense of consumers’ health.
Because no warnings about the presence of heavy metals appear on the products’ labels and packaging, consumers are led to expect that the dark chocolate bars are safe for consumption and do not contain any kind of toxic substance, the cases claim.
“Instead of adequately testing [their] Products like [their] competitors, Defendant[s] chose to ignore the health of the consuming public in pursuit of profit,” the similarly worded complaints read.
In December 2022, Consumer Reports published the results of an analysis of 28 dark chocolate products that reveal that both Lindt’s Excellence Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa bar and Excellence Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa bar were found to contain dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium, one complaint relays. According to the other filing, the Godiva Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar also registered harmful lead content.
Based on California’s maximum allowable dose levels (MADLs) of lead and cadmium—0.5 micrograms and 4.1 micrograms, respectively—the Lindt dark chocolate products “expose consumers to 48-166% of the MADL for lead … and 80-116% of the MADL for cadmium” in just a one-ounce serving, the lawsuit against Lindt stresses. Similarly, a one-ounce serving of Godiva’s dark chocolate bar was determined to contain 146 percent of the MADL for lead, the other suit says.
“[T]he harmful effects of heavy metals are well-documented, particularly on children,” but also threaten the health of adults, the lawsuits relay. The complaints explain that exposure to heavy metals like lead and cadmium can cause cancer and lead to other serious health conditions.
Lead exposure can cause brain damage and anemia and can result in “nervous system problems, hypertension, immune system suppression, kidney damage, and reproductive issues,” the filings relay. “Lead can also cross the fetal barrier during pregnancy, exposing the mother and developing fetus to serious risks, including reduced growth and premature birth,” the lawsuits say. The case against Lindt adds that exposure to cadmium can also cause cancer and result in damage to vital organs in the body.
Per the suits, the defendants had already been informed by a consumer advocacy group whose 2014 analysis revealed the dark chocolate products contained “dangerously high” levels of the heavy metals.
Like other consumers, the plaintiff assumed she was buying dark chocolate bars that were safe for consumption and did not contain any substances that might have a negative impact on her health, the cases claim. She would not have purchased the products at all if she had known they contained cadmium or lead, the filings contend.
The lawsuits look to represent anyone in the United States who has purchased a Lindt-brand Excellence Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa bar, a Lindt-brand Excellence Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa bar, and/or a Godiva-brand Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao bar during any applicable statute of limitations.
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