Dove Dark Chocolate Lawsuit Filed Over Heavy Metal Contamination Risks

The lawsuits follow a recent report which discovered high levels of lead and cadmium in leading dark chocolate products

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Mars, Inc., over failure to disclose toxic and harmful heavy metals in Dove dark chocolate products, including lead and cadmium, which can cause a number of potential health side effects.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Arlene Millman in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York on January 5, naming the manufacturer of Dove dark chocolate products as the defendant.

Heavy metals in Dove dark chocolate products include dangerous levels of lead and cadmium, which could increase the risk of cancer and irreversible damage to brain development. Although the manufacturer knew or should have known about the contamination, consumers were not adequately warned, according to the lawsuit.

Toxic Metals Found In Dark Chocolate

The lawsuit was filed after results of independent testing by Consumer Reports Magazine were released on December 15, which found 23 different brands of dark chocolate contain toxic levels of lead or cadmium, or both, including Dove, Hershey, Trader Joe’s, Godiva and several other popular brands.

Researchers used California’s Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADLs) for lead (0.5 Micrograms) and cadmium (4.1mcg), which the report claims are the most protective available standards.

According to the findings, Consumer Reports identified eight of the dark chocolate bars tested contained elevated levels of cadmium, 10 tested over allowable limits for lead, and five exceeded both lead and cadmium levels. Specifically, Dove Promises Deeper Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao exceeded the allowable lead limits by 74% and by 112% for Cadmium.

Other popular dark chocolate products found to contain both elevated levels of cadmium and lead included:

  • Theo Organic Pure Dark 70% Cocoa
  • Theo Organic Extra Dark Pure Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa
  • Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85%
  • Cacao and Lily’s Extremely Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa

The report stated dark chocolate typically contains greater volume of cacao, which can absorb cadmium from the soil. However, CR reported lead is likely introduced to the cacao beans after drying in the sun and collecting lead-filled dust.

Dove Dark Chocolate Class Action Lawsuit

Millman’s lawsuit states that Dove Promises Deeper Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao contained elevated levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, which should have been disclosed if Mars they had lived up to their duty of care in adequately testing ingredients and the final products to ensure consumer safety.

“As companies across the industry have adopted methods to limit heavy metals in their dark chocolates, Defendant has stood idly by with a reckless disregard for its consumers’ health and well-being”, the lawsuit states.

Rather than upholding this duty of care, Millman’s lawsuit states Mars deceptively omitted the presence of lead and cadmium in its dark chocolate products and engaged in false and misleading advertising to increase profits.

The lawsuit claims Mars knew if these toxins were disclosed it would negatively impact its competitive edge in the multi-billion dollar dark chocolate industry, which was valued at $56.09 billion in 2021.

Millman is also requesting injunctive relief, asking for Mars Inc. to be prohibited from further selling or distributing the products until the Court grants the approval of an updated and accurately labeled dark chocolate product.

Similar allegations were raised in a Hershey’s chocolate class action lawsuit filed last month.

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