Hershey's Special Dark

Hershey’s, one of the world’s leading chocolate brands, is facing a class-action lawsuit over claims that it intentionally misled consumers by marketing its dark chocolate products as a healthy source of antioxidants.

Consumer Leon Khasin filed the suit in a California court. Khasin’s claim alleges that the labels on Hershey’s dark chocolate products fail to meet certain nutritional requirements in order to justify the marketing claims that the product contains antioxidant power. Khasin’s attorneys say Hershey is in violation of California laws including the Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

The Hershey Company’s Special Dark Cocoa and Special Dark Kisses labels claim the products’ cocoa flavonols provide a natural source of antioxidants. The Special Dark Kisses label says the 41 gram product contains 180 milligrams of antioxidants. But according to FDA guidance, antioxidant claims can be made only if a product’s nutrients have been scientifically recognized as containing antioxidant capacity, and if an established RDI (Reference Daily Intakes) for the product exists. On average, the product must contain 10 to 19 percent of the RDI per serving to qualify. There is currently no RDI for cocoa productions under the Code of Federal Regulations.

Hershey filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the company’s claims were made under existing FDA guidance. District Judge Edward Davila denied Hershey’s request, stating that the antioxidant levels were not preempted by FDA regulations.

Hershey’s has also come under attack recently for issues surrounding the sourcing of the company’s cocoa products and the use of child laborers.

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Image: trekkyandy