Dangerous Levels of Lead and Cadmium Found in 28 Popular Brands of Dark Chocolate Bars, Including Hershey's
As a powerful source of antioxidants and a proven food to lower blood pressure, dark chocolate can be a healthy alternative when snacking, but an alarming new study from Consumer Reports has found dangerous heavy metals in dark chocolate bars from brands you know, like Hershey's, Theo, and Trader Joe's.
Consuming these heavy metals can cause serious health issues for pregnant women and young children because they affect brain development. "But there are risks for people of any age," Tunde Akinleye, the Consumer Reports food safety researcher who led the testing, said in a statement. "To determine the risk posed by the chocolates in CR's test, we used California's maximum allowable dose level (MADL) for lead (0.5 micrograms) and cadmium (4.1mcg)." The results are shocking.
Read on to see which dark chocolate brands exactly were mentioned and which metals were found—and how you can stay safe.
Consumer Reports Found Cadmium in Some Dark Chocolate Bars
One of the main dangers of eating cadmium is that it can accumulate in the body over time. When cadmium is ingested, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and can accumulate in the liver, kidney, and other organs. It can also cross the placenta and affect fetal development.
Long-term exposure to cadmium can lead to serious health problems, including kidney damage, anemia, and weak bones. It can also increase the risk of cancer and respiratory problems. In severe cases, cadmium poisoning can lead to death.
One of the main sources of cadmium exposure is through the diet. Cadmium can be found in some foods, including grains, nuts, and vegetables, particularly those grown in soil that is contaminated with cadmium (and yes, dark chocolate too, as a result). It can also be found in some shellfish and in water that has been contaminated with cadmium from industrial sources.
It Also Found Lead in Others
While lead has some useful properties, it can also be harmful to human health if ingested or inhaled. As with Cadmium, one of the main dangers of eating lead is that it can accumulate in the body over time.
When lead is ingested, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and can accumulate in the bones, liver, and other organs. It can also cross the placenta and affect fetal development.
Long-term exposure to lead can lead to serious health problems, including developmental delays and learning disabilities in children, high blood pressure and kidney damage in adults, and an increased risk of cancer. In severe cases, lead poisoning can lead to death.
One of the main sources of lead exposure is through the diet. Lead can be found in some foods, including certain types of meat, grains, and vegetables, particularly those grown in soil that is contaminated with lead. It can also be found in some water sources that have been contaminated with lead from pipes or other sources.
These are the Dark Chocolate Bars High in Cadmium
Consumer Reports tabulated the percentages of the MADL supplied in an ounce of each chocolate and found that Beyond Good Organic Pure Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa had a 112% level of Cadmium, while Alter Eco Organic Dark Chocolate Classic Blackout 85% Cacao had 204%, and Pascha's Organic Very Dark Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao had a whopping 253%, the highest level of the bars tested.
These are the Dark Chocolate Bars High in Lead
When measuring lead content, Consumer Reports found Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao has 192%, Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa has 152%, and Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate had the most, with 265%.
High in both cadmium and lead were Theo's Organic Pure Dark 70% Cocoa, Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate 85% Cacao, and Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao.
These Dark Chocolate Bars are the Safest Choices
Consumer Reports says Mast's Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cocoa, Taza Chocolate's Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao, and Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cacao to be the "safer choices," although each had some levels of the heavy metals.
So, should you stop eating these dark chocolates? "While both cadmium and lead pose serious health risks, products within each category are listed in order of lead level, because that heavy metal poses particular concerns and no amount of it is considered safe," says Consumer Reports in their study.
CBS News reached out to the National Confectioners Association for comment. "The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements," a spokesperson for the group told CBS MoneyWatch. "Food safety and product quality remain our highest priorities and we remain dedicated to being transparent and socially responsible."
In order to protect yourself from cadmium and lead exposure, it's important to be aware of the sources of these heavy metals and limit your intake of foods that may contain high levels of them. You should also be careful about the products you use, as some household items, such as certain types of paint, batteries, and ceramics contain these metals.
If you are concerned about your exposure to heavy metals, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you determine if you are at risk and provide guidance on how to reduce your exposure.