"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Watchdog group finds 'worrying' levels of heavy metals in chocolate

October 26, 2023 – Consumer Reports is asking on makers of dark chocolate products to limit heavy metal content after the watchdog group called test results “concerning.”

Researcher checked Examined 48 chocolate products and located potentially harmful levels of lead or cadmium in 16 of them. All 48 products tested contained lead or cadmium.

The products tested got here from major retailers similar to Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Target and included cocoa powder, chocolate chips, candy bars and brownie or cake mixes. None of the milk chocolate products tested had metal levels of concern, but some dark chocolate products were found to have levels of concern.

Varying amounts of cadmium and lead suggest that chocolate makers could make changes to limit the degrees of their products, the researchers said.

“In general, products with higher cocoa content tend to have higher levels of metals, but not always,” Eric Boring, PhD, a chemist and researcher at Consumer Reports, said in a press release. “There is such a wide variation in lead levels across food categories that clearly factors other than cocoa content influence lead levels, and this means manufacturers can reduce heavy metals in their products to the lowest possible levels.”

Cadmium likely enters products through the soil during which cocoa is grown, and lead is probably going introduced after harvest, similar to from dust and soil that comes into contact with the beans once they are dried outdoors, it says the report. The tests also searched for mercury and arsenic, but no risk was found.

Consumer Reports researchers used California's standard values ​​to evaluate whether or not metal levels were a priority because there aren't any federal limits for lead or cadmium in most foods, the authors wrote. The authors contacted the FDA regarding the outcomes.

“While the presence of cadmium and lead in chocolate has been the subject of significant media attention, experts from around the world have found that chocolate represents a minor source of exposure to these contaminants internationally,” the FDA said in a press release, adding: “All Food manufacturers and processors have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their food.”

Worrying amounts of metals were present in a bar of dark chocolate and a combination of hot chocolate from Walmart, cocoa powder from Hershey's and Droste, semisweet chocolate chips from Target and hot chocolate mixes from Trader Joe's, Nestle and Starbucks, in accordance with a summary from the news outlet Reuters.

Consumer Reports specifically called on chocolate maker Hershey to cut back the metal content in its products. Earlier this 12 months, a Hershey executive said the corporate wanted to cut back lead and cadmium levels or do away with the metals altogether, the report said.

In a test of 28 dark chocolate bars that Consumer Reports analyzed last 12 months, the metals cadmium and lead were present in all of them, in accordance with a report published in December. Brands included Dove, Ghirardelli, Alter Eco and Mast.

The metal content of the 28 bars was so high that consuming only one ounce of chocolate may very well be harmful.

“Sustained, long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a variety of health problems,” the December report said. “The danger is greatest for pregnant women and young children, as the metals can cause developmental problems, impair brain development and lead to a lower intelligence quotient.”

Repeated exposure to guide can affect the nervous system and is related to hypertension, poor immune response, kidney damage and reproductive problems. The authors found that 15% of individuals eat chocolate daily, in accordance with market research firm Mintel. Dark chocolate is taken into account a healthy treat since it is wealthy in antioxidants and low in sugar.

Five bars within the December study had safer metal levels, meaning makers of high-metal bars could change their processes to lower those levels. The five bars that Consumer Reports named “safer choices” were:

  • Mast organic dark chocolate 80% cocoa
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight 72% cocoa
  • Taza Chocolate Organic delicious dark chocolate 70% cocoa
  • Valrhona Abinao dark chocolate 85% cocoa
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cocoa

This latest round of testing also showed that two additional bars may very well be considered “safer options”:

  • Sam's Choice (Walmart) Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao
  • Divine 70% deliciously smooth dark chocolate