Chocolate is not only loved and craved by almost everyone, but it can also be a healthy food if it is made with the right ingredients– until recently.
In February of 2015, the watchdog group As You Sow, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, began legal action against Chocolate companies for having lead and/or cadmium in their products without disclosing it on the label. According to Andrew Behar of As You Sow, “We sent them to an independent lab and we had them test it for lead and for cadmium and we compared these levels to the legal limits.”
Cadmium and lead are both heavy metals that accumulate in the body and can cause harm, so they’re best avoided as much as possible. According to As You Sow, “Chronic exposure to cadmium has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans. Children are more susceptible to exposure effects from low doses of cadmium over time. Animal studies have associated cadmium exposure with decreased birth weight, neurobehavioral problems, and male reproductive harm” (source). Exposure to lead has long been a public health issue, as even low levels are associated with neurological impairment, including learning disabilities and a low IQ. Ingestion of lead is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women with developing brains.
How did cadmium and lead end up in your chocolate?
There are a few possible theories about how the heavy metals end up in your chocolate. Behar explains that, “One possible theory is that lead and cadmium from coal fire power plants, from leaded gasoline, from pesticides get into the soil then get into the bean.”
ABC7News reports, “Another possibility is that somehow the lead is introduced in the manufacturing plant.”
The brands involved
- 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 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
- Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) Cadmium
- Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (82% cacao) Cadmium
- 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
- 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