By As You Sow — Responding to published research showing high levels of heavy metals in commonly eaten food items, As You Sow began extensive independent laboratory testing of 42 chocolate products for lead and cadmium. We found that 26 of the chocolate products (~62%) contain lead and/or cadmium at levels in which one serving exceeds the California safe harbor level for reproductive harm.
We filed notices with 16 manufacturers, including See’s, Mars, Hershey, Lindt, Godiva, Whole Foods, and others, for failing to provide required warnings to consumers that their chocolate products contain lead, cadmium, or both.
No level of lead is safe for children.
Lead exposure has been a significant public health issue for decades and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ, even at low levels. “No amount of lead ingestion is ‘safe’ for children,” states Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. “Pregnant women and young children with developing brains in particular should avoid any ingestion of lead.”
Cadmium is also known to cause reproductive harm.
Chronic exposure to cadmium has been to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans. Children are more susceptible to exposure effects from low doses of cadmium over time. Companies are not doing enough to keep their products safe and below California’s safe harbor level for reproductive harm for these toxic heavy metals.
California law ensures consumers receive warnings.
To protect consumers, companies should take immediate steps to remove these toxic heavy metals from their products or, at a minimum, to warn according to the California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. If the heavy metals are not removed, people need to be informed so they can protect themselves and their families.
Consumers’ input is important to food manufacturers and we, as consumers, should make companies aware that we take this issue seriously. Investors should also consider potential risk if they own shares of these companies.
See the products we tested in the tables below.
CHOCOLATE WARNING REQUIRED
|Bissinger’s||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||Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate Bar||Cadmium|
|Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Bar 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate||Lead & Cadmium|
|Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.||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 (dba Artisan Confections Company)||Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (62% cacao)||Cadmium|
|Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (82% cacao)||Cadmium|
|Dagoba 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|
|Mars, Incorporated||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|
NO CHOCOLATE WARNING REQUIRED
|Albertson’s, LLC (SuperValu, Inc.)||Wild Harvest Organic Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix||No warning required|
|DeMet’s Candy Company||Flipz 50% cacao Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels||No warning required|
|Endangered Species Chocolate, LLC||Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa)||No warning required|
|Ferrero USA Inc.||Ferrero Collection Fine assorted Confections||No warning required|
|Ghirardelli Chocolate Company||Ghiradelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie (86% Cacao)||No warning required|
|The Hershey Company||Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate||No warning required|
|Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups||No warning required|
|Jo’s Candies||Jo’s Candies Dark Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers “All Natural”||No warning required|
|Kraft Foods Group, Inc.||Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate Bar with Honey and Almond Nougat||No warning required|
|Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc.||Lindt Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt Dark (with Fleur de Sel sea salt crystals)||No warning required|
|Mars, Incorporated||Snickers||No warning required|
|CocoaVia Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement||No warning required|
|Mondelez International, Inc.||Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate (34% Cacao)||No warning required|
|Nestle Holdings, Inc.||Nestle Crunch||No warning required|
|Ovaltine Classic Malt Mix||No warning required|
|Starbucks Corporation||Starbucks Dark Chocolate Covered Grahams||No warning required|
As You Sow, a consumer health protection organization, commissioned an independent state-certified laboratory to measure levels of lead and cadmium in 42 chocolate products available at retailers across California. The charts indicate whether, pursuant to test results, the product requires a warning under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
Read more about Steven Peters.