Lead and Cadmium in Chocolate

Note: Here is a recent study report from California BUT the first whiff of an issue with lead in chocolate was noted in 2005.  The outcome of research indicated that the coffee bean itself was not the source.  The shell of the bean did contain a lot of lead, probably mopped up from air in polluted origin countries. The shell was not exported so the mystery continues.  However, dark chocolate is heart friendly.   Just minimize exposure to young kids and pregnant ladies.

Chocolate and lead

Responding to published research showing high levels of heavy metals in commonly eaten food items, As You Sow began extensive independent laboratory testing of 42 chocolate products for lead and cadmium. We found that 26 of the chocolate products (~62%) contain lead and/or cadmium at levels in which one serving exceeds the California safe harbor level for reproductive harm. We filed notices with 16 manufacturers, including See’s, Mars, Hershey, Lindt, Godiva, Whole Foods, and others, for failing to provide required warnings to consumers that their chocolate products contain lead, cadmium, or both.

Lead and cadmium were found in popular chocolate products.

No level of lead is safe for children. Lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ, even at low levels. “No amount of lead ingestion is ‘safe’ for children,” states Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. “Pregnant women and young children with developing brains in particular should avoid any ingestion of lead.”

Cadmium is also known to cause reproductive harm. Chronic exposure to cadmium has been to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans. Children are more susceptible to exposure effects from low doses of cadmium over time. Companies are not doing enough to keep their products safe and below California’s safe harbor level for reproductive harm for these toxic heavy metals.

California law ensures consumers receive warnings before they are harmed. To protect consumers, companies should take immediate steps to remove these toxic heavy metals from their products or, at a minimum, to warn according to the California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. If the heavy metals are not removed, people need to be informed so they can protect themselves and their families.

Consumers’ input is important to food manufacturers and we, as consumers, should make companies aware that we take this issue seriously. Investors should also consider potential risk if they own shares of these companies.


Are there heavy metals in your child’s chocolate?

As You Sow, a consumer health protection organization, commissioned an independent state-certified laboratory to measure levels of lead and cadmium in 42 chocolate products available at retailers across California. The charts indicate whether, pursuant to test results, the product requires a warning under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.


Warning Required

Bissinger’s Bissinger’s All Natural 60% Dark Chocolate Whole Almonds Lead
Earth Circle Foods dba River Canyon Retreat Inc. Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Cold Pressed Cadmium
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company Ghiradelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate Bar Cadmium
Ghiradelli Chocolate Premium Baking Bar 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
Godiva Chocolatier, Inc. Godiva Chocolatier 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Lead
Godiva Chocolatier 85% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
Godiva Chocolatier 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
The Hershey Company (dba Artisan Confections Company) Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) Cadmium
Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (82% cacao) Cadmium
Dagoba Organic New Moon Rich Dark Chocolate (74% cacao) Lead & Cadmium
Lake Champlain Chocolates Lake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate (57% cocoa) Lead & Cadmium
Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc. Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Excellence Extra Dark Lead & Cadmium
Mars, Incorporated Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Bar Cadmium
Mondelez International, Inc. Green & Black’s Organic 85% Cacao Bar Lead & Cadmium
Moonstruck Chocolate Co. Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Chile Variado (68% cacao) Lead
See’s Candies, Inc. See’s Candies Premium Extra Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) Cadmium
The Kroger Co. Private Selection 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Swiss Bar Lead & Cadmium
Theo Chocolate Theo Organic Fair Trade Pure 85% Dark Chocolate Cadmium
Trader Joe’s Company Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Lead
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee With Walnuts and Pecans 70% cacao Lead
Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Lead
Trader Joe’s Pound Plus, 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Lead
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 73% Cacao Super Dark Lead & Cadmium
Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar (85% cacao) Lead & Cadmium
Vosges, Ltd. Wild Ophelia All Natural New Orleans Chili – Dark Chocolate Bar (70% cacao) Lead
Whole Foods Market, Inc. 365 Everyday Value Organic Dark Chocolate (56% Cacao) Lead & Cadmium

No Warning Required

Albertson’s, LLC (SuperValu, Inc.) Wild Harvest Organic Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix No warning required
DeMet’s Candy Company Flipz 50% cacao Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels No warning required
Endangered Species Chocolate, LLC Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa) No warning required
Ferrero USA Inc. Ferrero Collection Fine assorted Confections No warning required
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company Ghiradelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie (86% Cacao) No warning required
The Hershey Company Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate No warning required
Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups No warning required
Jo’s Candies Jo’s Candies Dark Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers “All Natural” No warning required
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate Bar with Honey and Almond Nougat No warning required
Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc. Lindt Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt Dark (with Fleur de Sel sea salt crystals) No warning required
Mars, Incorporated Snickers No warning required
CocoaVia Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement No warning required
Mondelez International, Inc. Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate (34% Cacao) No warning required
Nestle Holdings, Inc. Nestle Crunch No warning required
Ovaltine Classic Malt Mix No warning required
Starbucks Corporation Starbucks Dark Chocolate Covered Grahams No warning required


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