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'Warning' Settlement for Chocolate Sold in California

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 21, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You might want to double-check the label on your next chocolate bar.

You don't need to check for the calorie count; we already know that's bad. But there could be more bad news, under the terms of a chocolate industry settlement.

Chocolate producers have agreed to study and report on lead and cadmium in their products. It's a result of California's Proposition 65, which warns consumers about cancer-causing chemicals, and a lawsuit by an advocacy group.

Lead and Cadmium

As You Sow, a non-profit, targets corporations for a "safe, just, and sustainable world." Its website says we should worry about lead and cadmium in chocolate products.

The advocacy group sued to include warnings with the products, and major chocolate companies -- including Hershey, Mars, and Nestle -- settled. The settlement allows other companies to opt it.

"Our goal has always been to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid or reduce lead and cadmium in their products," said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. "This settlement helps achieve that goal and provides for interim warning levels as we jointly work on the study."

The settlement requires that experts investigate, report, and make recommendations to reduce lead and cadmium in chocolate products. The settlement also includes thresholds for determining when Prop. 65 warnings will be required.

Prop 65

California voters approved Prop 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, in 1986. It requires the state to publish a list of chemicals that are "known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity."

The list is updated regularly and has listed about 800 chemicals to date. They are on the website of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

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