Hershey sued in the US over heavy metals in chocolate allegations
US chocolate business Hershey has been sued in a New York case that is being contested on concerns over levels of alleged heavy metals within some of its product ranges, writes Neill Barston.
The trial, which has made headlines in America, has reportedly been brought by consumer Christopher Lazazzaro, who has reportedly asserted that the company had failed to declare quantities of lead and cadmium within its confectionery series.
According to reports in the US, the case has centred on the complainant’s assertion that he would not have purchased the dark chocolate range had he been fully aware of its contents.
Confectionery Production has sought comment from Hershey on the case, but is awaiting as a response at the time of writing. It has been reported in the US that Lazazzaro is seeking damages of up to $5 million from the chocolate manufacturer.
Among some of the key evidence to be presented is specific reference to a recent Consumer Reports study that claimed to have found high levels of cadmium in a number of premium branded dark chocolate ranges including Hershey, Lindt, Lily’s, Trader Joe’s and Green & Blacks.
In its tests, the group said it found a total of 23 from 28 bar ranges were listed as products of concern, which were measured against California’s maximum allowable dose levels of heavy metals. However, the National Confectioners Association issued a statement in response to the claims made in the report, noting that the US state’s figures did not represent general health guidance.
As industry observers have noted on the Consumer Reports study, it did not highlight the fact that some degree of heavy metals may be present in a number of other wider food ranges. This, as sector analysis has found, is often influenced by soil conditions in certain regions of the world – a finding which was acknowledged by the NCA, which has produced a jointly-produced set of advisory recommendations for major confectionery companies operating in the US for improving agricultural and manufacturing processes in response to such findings.