Heavy metals found in dark chocolate including Hershey’s and Trader Joe’s
Long seen as healthier than other sweets, some types of dark chocolate, long seen as healthier than other sweets, contain dangerous amounts of heavy metals, according to a study published Thursday by Consumer Reports.
Scientists at the nonprofit advocacy organization recently measured the amount of heavy metals in 28 popular brands of dark chocolate bars and found cadmium and lead in all of them. For 23 of the bars, consuming just one ounce per day would put an adult above at least one level of potentially harmful minerals, cr said. Five of the bars had levels above these levels for both cadmium and lead.
Experts say long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a slew of health problems, including problems with growth and brain development in young children.
“But there are risks for people of any age,” Tunde Akinle, the VCR food safety researcher who led the testing, said in a statement. He pointed out that repeated exposure to lead in adults can lead to problems in the nervous system, high blood pressure, suppression of the immune system, kidney damage and reproductive problems.
While most of the chocolate bars tested contained levels of lead, cadmium, or both, five had relatively low levels of both metals, CR found.
“This shows that it is possible for companies to make products with less heavy metals — and for consumers to find safer products that they enjoy,” Akinle said.
When determining the hazards of the chocolate it tested, CR used California’s maximum allowable dose of 0.5 micrograms for lead and 4.1 micrograms for cadmium, as there are no federal limits.
CR found that an ounce of Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate contains 265% more lead than California allows, while Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao contains 192% more.
Trader Joe’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Hershey’s spokesperson has been referred to the National Confectioners Association for comment. In an emailed statement, the trade group objected to CR’s use of the levels set by California, noting that the state does not set federal standards for food safety.
“The products reported in this study comply with stringent quality and safety requirements,” a spokesperson for the group stated in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “Food safety and product quality remain our top priority, and we remain committed to transparency and social responsibility.”
In August, the Confectioners’ Association released research showing ways it could reduce lead and cadmium in chocolate, including having cocoa farmers plant fresh stock from the trees.
According to the CR results, the safest options are:
- Must Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cocoa. CR found that an ounce contains 14% less lead and 40% less cadmium than California’s allowable limits.
- Taza Organic Delicious Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa contains 33% less lead and 74% less cadmium.
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cocoa contains 36% less lead and 39% less cadmium.
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight. Lead contained 61% below the allowable level and cadmium 96% below the allowable limit.
- Valrhona Abenao Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa. Lead is 63% and cadmium is 73% below.
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