Update (2018): As You Sow, the organization that commissioned the testing has 2018 test results and a settlement with many of the listed companies agreeing to investigate the sources of lead and cadmium in chocolate and find feasible measures to lower levels of these metals by 2025, plus warn consumers if levels are above a certain level.
Update (August 2017): In an effort to protect consumers, the European Union has released new guidelines for cadmium exposure thresholds that took effect in January 2019:
– Milk chocolate with less than 30% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.10 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Chocolate with more than 50% total dry cocoa solids and milk chocolate with more than 30% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.30 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Chocolate with more than 50% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.80 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Cocoa powder sold to the final consumer or as an ingredient in sweetened cocoa powder sold to the final consumer (drinking chocolate) cannot contain more than 0.60 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
According to Confectionery News, an industry publication, “No limit values exist for cadmium in chocolate in the U.S. However, California requires a warning label on products with more than 4.1 mg of cadmium per daily serving of a single product. The FDA has also set a guidance limit of 0.1 ppm for lead in candy consumed by young children.”
OAKLAND, CA – March 23, 2016 – Consumer health watchdog As You Sow released results showing that 35 of 50 chocolate products tested, including chocolate bunnies and eggs, expose consumers to lead and cadmium above levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
Testing commissioned by As You Sow, and conducted at independent laboratories, indicates that the chocolate products contain lead and/or cadmium, and they fail to provide the legally required warning to consumers.
As You Sow has filed legal notices against chocolate manufacturers, including Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Green and Black’s, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, Godiva, See’s Candies, Mars, Theo Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Ghirardelli, Earth Circle Organics, and more, for failure to warn of lead and/or cadmium in their chocolate products.
“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children,” said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant.
“As underscored by the Flint disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure,” said Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. “Young children and pregnant women especially should avoid exposure to lead.”
“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children,” explained Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. “Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products.”
Scientists have linked chronic cadmium exposure to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans. Children are more susceptible to especially susceptible to even from low doses over time. Animal studies associate cadmium exposure with decreased birth weight, neurobehavioral problems, and male reproductive harm.
Recent revelations of lead contamination in water in Flint, Michigan raised awareness that lead is irrefutably linked to neurological impacts in children.
Since 1992, As You Sow has led enforcement actions resulting in removal of lead from children’s jewelry and formaldehyde from portable classrooms.
CONTACT: Kristin Costa, (510) 735-8164, email@example.com
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
Want some safe chocolate? Here are a few on the safe list: