Study Finds High Levels of Heavy Metals In Dark Chocolate

Consumer Reports' new research suggests that even dark chocolate , which was once considered to be healthy, could contain harmful levels of heavy metals.

Consumer Reports' researchers measured 28 different heavy metals in dark chocolate bars. These included brands such as Dove, Hershey's and Trader Joe's as well as smaller ones like Mast or Alter Eco.

The researchers discovered that every single bar of chocolate contained lead and cadmium. These metals were present in 23 chocolate bars. This means that an individual could be exposed to at most one of these poisonous metals by consuming just one ounce per day. There were five bars containing potentially harmful levels of both lead & cadmium.

Tunde, a Consumer Reports researcher on food safety, who led this project, stated that 5 of the five tested bars of dark chocolate had very low levels.

Akinleye says that it is possible to produce products with lesser amounts of heavy metals, and to provide safer products for customers.

Scientists tested bars of dark chocolate for excess lead and cadmium. This was done to find out if the California regulations on safety and environmental protection are more strict than those in the United States. California's maximum permissible doses of lead are 0.5 micrograms and cadmium is 4.1 micrograms.

Many brands of Dark Chocolate had High Lead and Cadmium Levels

California allowed five products to exceed the state's maximum permissible levels for lead and cadmium.

Five products had lead and cadmium levels that were below California's maximum allowed doses: Taza Chocolate organic dark chocolate 70% cacao, Mast Organic dark Chocolate 80 percent cacao and Ghirardelli dark chocolate 86% cacao. Ghirardelli dark chocolate 72 percent cocoa and Valrhona Abinao chocolate 85 percent cacao.

According to a spokesperson from the National Confectioners Association, all dark chocolate bars that were tested by Consumer Reports contained levels of lead or cadmium lower than the California court settlement of 2018. A warning label is required if the limits are exceeded.

"The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements, and the levels provided to us by Consumer Reports testing are well under the limits established by our settlement," the association said in an emailed statement. Our highest priorities are food safety and quality. We will continue to be transparent and responsible.

What is the Process of Lead and Cadmium in Chocolate?

Cadmium can be found naturally in the crust of the earth. Cadmium can also be found in cigarettes and is used in many consumer and industrial products such as batteries, pigments and metal coatings. Cadmium can also be breathed in through various foods and other sources. Cadmium inhalation may cause damage to the kidneys, bone fragility, and other cancers.

The earth's crust also contains lead. Although it has been banned from gasoline and paints in America, lead is still found in many metal combinations and industrial products. These include ammunition, old pipes, radiators for cars, glass and pottery. Exposure to lead can occur through drinking lead-contaminated beverages and food, or by inhaling dust or dirt. Children under the age of five are more at risk, as lead can have a negative impact on their cognitive abilities and development.

Consumer Reports investigated how lead and cadmium end up in chocolate. Cacao beans actually contain a lot of Cadmium in their soil. This means that it is absorbed by the cacao plant as it matures. The beans are covered in lead-filled dust after being picked, as well as while drying in sunlight.

This Caveat: Dark Chocolate is Fine in Moderation.

Toby Amidor is a registered dietician who wrote The Family Immunity Cookbook. While you should be aware of the possibility that dark chocolate may contain lead or cadmium, there's no need to avoid it.

Amidor states, "There are many dark chocolate choices that can be chosen that have lower levels" of the metal.

One ounce of dark chocolate every so often isn't likely to be harmful, Amidor says, noting that there are also heart-healthy antioxidants and flavanols in dark chocolate that some studies have linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Consumer Reports has these suggestions to reduce the risk of toxic metals in chocolate.

Dark chocolate should have a lower percentage of cacao.

Dark chocolate bars should contain 70% or more cacao, as cadmium levels can increase along with cacao percentages.

Organic is not safer. The risks in organic as well as non-organic products are similar, according to testing.

Dark chocolate should not be given to children. Children are more at risk from heavy metals than adults. Children may also prefer milk chocolate, which is sweeter than dark chocolate.

Balance your diet. There are many foods that contain flavanols such as apples, grapes, green tea and other fruits. Many foods can expose you to heavy metals including sweet potatoes and carrots. You can get many nutrients from a broad range of food, helping to offset some of the damage that heavy metals can cause.

Chocolate should be enjoyed as an occasional treat. It is not likely that a single ounce dark chocolate with higher levels cadmium or lead will cause you immediate harm. Akinleye stated that eating dark chocolate a couple of times a week is a good idea, particularly if the levels are lower.