Shedding Light in the Darkness

Chocolate – Lead & Cadmium Contamination


According to the consumer health watchdog As You Sow, there’s a good chance that chocolate you buy may contain lead or cadmium. Lab test results obtained by the group examined 42 products, 26 of which contained lead and/or cadmium at levels above what the state of California considers safe. The brands that tested positive for heavy metals included Hershey’s, Mars, Ghiradhelli, Godiva, See’s, Lindt, Whole Foods, and Green and Black’s.

Some of the chocolate tested contained lead at levels up to 5.9 times California’s “safe harbor” levelor the maximum allowable daily limitfor reproductive harm, and found cadmium at levels up to 8.2 times the limit.

“No one expects heavy metals in their chocolate,” said Eleanne van Vliet, As You Sow’s director of toxic chemicals research. “We hope to convince chocolate manufacturers to remove heavy metals from their products,” said As You Sow president Danielle Fugere.

Lead is well known to cause neurological damage, particularly in children. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered what it considers “elevated lead exposure” for children from 10 to 5 parts per million. What this amounts to, says Boston University School of Medicine professor of pediatrics and public health Sean Palfrey, is that “No amount of lead ingestion is safe for children.” What’s more, “lead exposure is cumulative”it builds up in the bodyexplains Bruce Lanphear, Faculty of Health Sciences professor at Simon Fraser University.

Research into lead and cadmium contamination of chocolate and cocoa dates back at least 10 to 15 years. Studies have found these metals in chocolate purchased all around the world. A survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in 2000 found milk chocolate bars to have the fourth highest lead concentration of all the food it tested.

How do these heavy metals get into chocolate? Scientists point to environmental contamination, primarily of soil, as a likely culprit. But air pollution may also be a factor as cacao beans are often dried outdoors. A 2005 study found high levels of lead in chocolate sourced from Nigeria.

One response to “Chocolate – Lead & Cadmium Contamination

  1. Claude Robichaux April 19, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Just so happens that as I read this article there was this lil seductive bag of M&M’s in my desk, so I took them out to see if these were one of the bastard chocolates said to be laden with lead. First time I ever read the back of one too. So, I read it carefully and sure enough, alas, it was one of the aforementioned heavy metal infused treats from hell. So much so that I could barely turn the pack over to read it. But, I must report that my crushed soul and newly sworn vows to never again eat chocolate were extremely short lived because also found on the back was a game-changing “Red’s Amazing” M&M cookie recipe. I give this article two claws up.


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