Is Your Chocolate Contaminated With Toxic Metals?

Is Your Chocolate Contaminated With Toxic Metals?

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.


Bissinger’sBissinger’s All Natural 60% Dark Chocolate Whole AlmondsLead
Earth Circle Foods dba River Canyon Retreat Inc.Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Cold PressedCadmium
Ghirardelli Chocolate CompanyGhirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate BarCadmium
Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Bar 100% Cacao Unsweetened ChocolateLead & Cadmium
Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.Godiva Chocolatier 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Sea SaltLead
Godiva Chocolatier 85% Cacao Extra Dark ChocolateLead & Cadmium
Godiva Chocolatier 72% Cacao Dark ChocolateLead & 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 ChocolatesLake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate (57% cocoa)Lead & Cadmium
Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc.Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Excellence Extra DarkLead & Cadmium
Mars, IncorporatedDove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate BarCadmium
Mondelez International, Inc.Green & Black’s Organic 85% Cacao BarLead & 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 BarLead & Cadmium
Theo ChocolateTheo Organic Fair Trade Pure 85% Dark ChocolateCadmium
Trader Joe’s CompanyTrader Joe’s Swiss 72% Cacao Dark ChocolateLead
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee With Walnuts and Pecans 70% cacaoLead
Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark ChocolateLead
Trader Joe’s Pound Plus, 72% Cacao Dark ChocolateLead
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 73% Cacao Super DarkLead & 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


Albertson’s, LLC (SuperValu, Inc.)Wild Harvest Organic Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa MixNo warning required
DeMet’s Candy CompanyFlipz 50% cacao Dark Chocolate Covered PretzelsNo warning required
Endangered Species Chocolate, LLCEndangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa)No warning required
Ferrero USA Inc.Ferrero Collection Fine assorted ConfectionsNo warning required
Ghirardelli Chocolate CompanyGhiradelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie (86% Cacao)No warning required
The Hershey CompanyHershey’s Kisses Milk ChocolateNo warning required
Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsNo warning required
Jo’s CandiesJo’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 NougatNo 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, IncorporatedSnickersNo warning required
CocoaVia Daily Cocoa Extract SupplementNo warning required
Mondelez International, Inc.Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate (34% Cacao)No warning required
Nestle Holdings, Inc.Nestle CrunchNo warning required
Ovaltine Classic Malt MixNo warning required
Starbucks CorporationStarbucks Dark Chocolate Covered GrahamsNo 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.