Horrible Study Finds a Majority of Chocolates Contain Toxic Metals

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Bittersweet.
Bittersweet. Photo: Bodo/Flickr

Another round of bad news for chocoholics: Not only can molten aluminum not melt your favorite candy, but the odds are also pretty high it contains toxic levels of lead, cadmium, or even both, according to a new study by consumer group As You Sow. The advocacy group tested 50 different popular chocolates for the two heavy metals, and results showed the amount was “above the safe harbor threshold,” as defined by California, in 35 of them. They’re pretty much all dark chocolates — the long list includes a variety of high-percent-cacao products by Hershey’s, Mars, Godiva, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods, as well as Cadbury’s dark-chocolate eggs and specialty bars by Vosges and Taza.

Altogether, it’s 18 manufacturers, and As You Sow says it’s petitioning them to add warnings to their labels (futilely, no doubt). It’s worth noting the metals aren’t being added by the companies; cocoa plants absorb them directly from the soil, though it’s typically understood to be in trace amounts and varies depending on where the plant grew. (Milk chocolate gets more of a pass because it straight-up has less cocoa.) Advocacy groups have noted these high levels before, but experts don’t exactly agree on what dangers they present. Consumer Labs advises people to limit their intake of chocolate to one serving per day, while As You Sow leaves the amount up to consumers but notes that lead is linked to “a variety of neurological impairments, including learning disabilities, seizures, and a lower IQ,” while cadmium can cause “damage to the kidney, liver, and bones, while also impairing neurobehavioral development.”

[As You Sow]