A United States environment group has launched a lawsuit against major chocolate makers - including Switzerland's Nestlé - claiming their products contain toxic metals.
The Californian-based American Environmental Safety Institute on Wednesday said it was suing several chocolate companies for not warning consumers that their products contain metals like lead and cadmium.
The group claims there are enough of the metals in chocolate to be a health risk, especially for children.
Nestlé blasted the lawsuit as "something plucked out of the air", insisting that its famous chocolate was absolutely safe.
Despite the assurance, however, the news pushed the price of Nestlé stocks down 1.6 per cent to SFr 384, in contrast to solid up trend on the Swiss stock exchange.
One dealer reportedly said "Whoever hears the words "USA" and "lawsuit" in one sentence can have only one reaction: get out, and now".
Alongside Nestlé, the lawsuit targets Mars, Hershey Foods, Kraft Foods North America and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - all of which account for about 80 percent of the US chocolate market.
swissinfo with agencies