As reported on CN last month, Consumer Reports claimed 23 of the 28 dark chocolate bars it tested included potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium or both for people who consume more than one ounce of chocolate a day.
In a letter to four chocolate producers - Hershey Co, Mondelez International Inc, Theo Chocolate and Trader Joe's - Consumer Reports said long-term exposure to the metals can result in nervous system problems, immune system suppression and kidney damage.
Consumer Reports said the letters were accompanied by nearly 55,000 petition signatures and claimed the danger was greater for pregnant women and young children because of the risk of developmental problems.
In its report, it also said many consumers eat dark chocolate for its potential health benefits and relatively low sugar levels, but "there's nothing healthy about ingesting heavy metals."
But trade group the National Confectioners Association issued a statement following the findings, saying the California health guidelines that Consumer Reports used and considered "the most protective available," are "not food safety standards" and that chocolate remains safe to eat.
Reuters reported that Trader Joe's has been sued at least nine times by consumers over its dark chocolate since Consumer Reports released its study, while Hershey's and Mondelez have also been sued over the findings, as have other chocolate makers, including Godiva and Lindt.