Thursday, October 23, 2008

Danger! Dark Chocolate!

I continue to discover the most interesting things when I check the labels on food packaging. For instance, the following disclaimer was just above the ingredient list on a bar of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate:

I had to wonder why the warning was there. I immediately thought lawsuit, and went lurking about the internet to see what I could find. I expected something between the McDonald‘s coffee case and a Seinfeld episode. What I did find was even funnier. Parody newspaper, The Onion, ran an article that was exactly what I thought I would find when I started looking for an explanation for the disclaimer. The only difference is that I expected to find an actual lawsuit. The lawsuit reported in The Onion was, obviously, a joke.

Of course, just when I thought fiction was strange, the truth jumps in with something stranger. A Fortune Magazine article, which was published more than 2 years after The Onion's article, talks about a lawsuit filed by New York City attorney Sam Hirsch on behalf of a group of obese teens. I think I knew about this case, which was dismissed, but I wasn't aware that any serious discussion came out of it. Apparently a few people were concerned about the impact of the case on the food industry. Impressive for a lawsuit that was referred to as a "laughingstock".

I never did discover why there was a disclaimer on my chocolate bar. Maybe Hershey's has put it there as a public service, although after reading the Fortune article I'm inclined to think that it's more about covering their assets.

UPDATE: November 6, 2008

After writing about the warning on my chocolate bar, references to Hershey’s chocolate keep cropping up. First there was the reappearance of chocolate bars that had been recalled two years ago for possible salmonella contamination. The bars were stolen from a disposal site. Makes me wonder how recalled items are disposed of. Somehow I thought they’d no longer resemble a saleable product.

Then I found a cute little Hershey bar in the basket of Halloween candy at work. I thought it would be too small for a warning, but when I turned it over there was a shorter caution. This one reminded consumers to “make sure you read the label every time”. Given the current concerns with Hershey products I don’t think reading the label is going to help. Unless you’ve memorized the barcodes affected by the recall, and if you have you probably have other more pressing concerns.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Your words of wisdom will appear once they have been previewed by the spam monkeys.

Your patience is appreciated.

Laurie the Monkey Queen