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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Whole Foods, Trader Joe's Sued For Lead in Candies

Attorney General Kamala Harris filed the lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco.

The state of California has sued food retailers including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's on Tuesday, claiming that ginger and plum candies have traces of lead but lack the legally required warning labels.

Candy makers and retailers "knowingly and intentionally" exposed customers to lead, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, constituting a violation of Proposition 65.

Proposition 65 stipulates businesses to warn consumers about chemicals and toxins designated as harmful to human health. The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, which filed the lawsuit, ordered laboratory tests in order to confirm the presence of lead.

One of the only responses thus far to the lawsuit filed against Whole Foods was this tweet to ATVN reporter Julia Deng. (Julia Deng/ATVN)
One of the only responses thus far to the lawsuit filed against Whole Foods was this tweet to ATVN reporter Julia Deng. (Julia Deng/ATVN)

The lawsuit named different products in violation of Proposition 65 at different retailers. Whole Food's "bulk ginger" and The Ginger People Baker's Cut Crystallized Ginger Chips were named in the lawsuit as having levels of lead, while at Trader Joe's, the un-crystallized candied ginger was found in violation.

Trader Joe's Director of Public Relations Allison Mochizuki said that per corporate policy, the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Whole Foods did not immediately respond to ATVN's requests for comment, but through the company's Twitter handle @WholeFoods told ATVN reporter Julia Deng (screenshot below):

"We are actively looking in to this with our suppliers. You are always welcome to return that to your local store."

Other companies named in the lawsuit include Target Inc. as well as multiple small retailers and food companies.

The candy makers and retailers could be fined up to $2,500 per day for each violation if a judge finds them at fault.

Lead exposure can hamper brain development in children, and typical sources of lead exposure are old paint, soil contaminated by leaded gasoline and drinking water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Wait, they can sell lead tainted candy so long as there's a warning label? Who would buy a product like that?

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