Lead and cadmium in chocolate? Oh, my!

This just in! Have you heard? Some (mostly dark) chocolate bars contain small amounts of lead and cadmium. CNN reports:

As You Sow, a California-based consumer advocacy group, believes that some chocolate has more lead than necessary. An updated survey released by the group this week found levels of lead in chocolate at nine times the daily amount that California considers safe to avoid reproductive harm. In addition, the group also found cadmium up to seven times the state’s maximum daily exposure.

The group had multiple samples of 50 different cocoa products analyzed by an independent lab and found more than half contained lead and cadmium levels above the state’s limits, which are more strict than federal guidelines. As You Sow won’t disclose the exact amounts of metals found in the products, in hopes of working directly with the manufacturers to help target sources of these metals, it said. [my emphasis]

As You Sow is a law firm that stands to benefit from litigation and consulting with manufacturers, and California has the strictest regulations in the nation. Lead and cadmium are naturally occurring metals found in soils as well as man-made contamination, and they may also appear in products during the manufacturing process. This doesn’t apply just to chocolate, either.

Here’s the list of chocolate bars found to exceed California levels.

Some of the chocolate makers responded thusly:

Chocolove: “The types and amounts of elements in a food product can come from soil and the natural growing of the plant or from food processing. There is a significant distinction between natural occurring components of the soil and the plant being in food, versus contamination added by incorrect food contact surfaces adding elements to the food.”

Lake Champlain Chocolates: “Per Proposition 65, the labeling requirement does NOT apply to low levels of substances found in foods that are naturally occurring. …There is no process at our factory that contributes to lead or cadmium levels in chocolate.”

Theo Chocolate: “We are evaluating the issues raised by this claim. … We are fully confident in both the quality and safety of Theo Chocolate products … we take robust measures to ensure the safety of our products.”

I’m going to let you decide whether this is a fear-based tactic designed to boost As You Sow’s business, or a well-intended form of consumer protection, or maybe a bit of both. I was frightened at first, because I’ve been making chocolate smoothies every day using amazing organic raw cacao powder from Navitas that has been found to exceed the California level for cadmium. (Navitas says it’s from the volcanic soil where the cacao is grown.)

If you’re concerned, Google “detox from heavy metals in the body.” There are a variety of posts with remedies. Here are a few:

I’m going to bump up my use of cilantro. Cilantro pesto made with soaked or sprouted seeds and an uncooked oil is yummy and goes well with lots of things. My favorite Thai soup, tom kha gai, uses cilantro as a garnish.

I get most of these nutrients through food and supplements.


Most ironically, chocolate is very high in magnesium!


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