European confectionery manufacturers have reacted robustly to a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that confectionery giants such as Mars, Hershey, Nestlé USA and Kraft Foods North America are exposing consumers to dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in their products.

“We intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these baseless and frivolous allegations,” a spokesman for the world’s top food company, Switzerland’s Nestlé, told Reuters.

The UK food safety authority said it does not consider chocolate to be a toxic hazard. “Chocolate is not a significant source of dietary cadmium and lead,” the Food Standards Agency said. “Chocolate products have been included in a survey of snack and convenience foods we have carried out, and levels of lead and cadmium were low… Only 3.75% of dietary exposure to cadmium and 3.84% of exposure to lead came from the sugar and preserves group (including chocolate),” it said.

Cadbury Schweppes, the UK’s largest producer of chocolate, said it was not aware of any problems and confirmed that its raw materials are screened for potential health risks.

The lawsuit charges Nestle, Kraft Foods, Hershey Foods and others with violating California’s Proposition 65, a health law that requires warnings to be given before individuals are exposed to hazardous chemicals.

To read yesterday’s story on this case, click here.