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Chocolate may Contain Lead - Report

Love chocolate eating? Then this will be a quite upsetting news that chocolate contains some lead. And the manufacturer say that it is in trace amount. It makes its way into chocolate as a naturally occurring element that is absorbed by the cacao plant.

Chocolate Image

As You Sow, is a consumer advocacy based in California believes that some chocolate has more lead than necessary.

The group have analyzed 50 different cocoa products in an independent lab and found that more than half contained lead and cadmium level above the state's limits which are more strict than federal guidelines.

"Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products," said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow.
California laws are more strict

Lead can be found in foods, air, soil, dust and water too. According to the CDCP, there is no safe level of lead for children. It can impair IQ and affect a child's ability to pay attention. When children ingest lead, they absorb about 50 percent of it into their bloodstream.

Eating low levels of cadmium, over time, can damage the kidneys. The Environmental Protection Agency calls the metal a probable human carcinogen.

According to federal guidelines, small children should not have more than 6 micrograms of lead from candy. But for adults, the limits are higher. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't have guidelines for cadmium in food. In all cases, the guidelines are just that -- not enforceable regulations.

When the initial survey on chocolate was released, the FDA said in a statement, "FDA monitors lead levels in the U.S. food supply and has established guidance levels for lead in some foods, such as candy."

FDA regulations say no more than .1 parts per million of lead in a piece of chocolate. If you broke up a candy bar into a million pieces, just one-tenth of one those million pieces could be lead.

Chocolate makers respond

  • Chocolove: "The types and amounts of elements in a food product can come from soil and the natural growing of the plant or from food processing. There is a significant distinction between natural occurring components of the soil and the plant being in food, versus contamination added by incorrect food contact surfaces adding elements to the food." 
  • Earth Circle Foods: "We're involved in discussions with As You Sow, we dispute these claims. We have a testing program in place and we believe that this product is safe." 
  • Hershey Company: "People have been eating cocoa and chocolate safely for centuries. Consumers can rest assured that our products are safe, and that our industry adheres to all government regulations." 
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates: "Per Proposition 65, the labeling requirement does NOT apply to low levels of substances found in foods that are naturally occurring. ...There is no process at our factory that contributes to lead or cadmium levels in chocolate." 
  • Theo Chocolate: "We are evaluating the issues raised by this claim. ... We are fully confident in both the quality and safety of Theo Chocolate products ... we take robust measures to ensure the safety of our products." 
  • See's Candies: "See's regularly evaluates its products to assure compliance with all state and federal guidelines." 

Eleanne Van Vliet, a consultant on testing for As You Sow, said that lead and cadmium can enter the products a variety of ways.

"It depends on the growing, processing, manufacturing, shipping. So there are a few possible sources, from our research," she said. "We would really like to have the chocolate industry come together and determine the sources."

"Labeling changes no longer need to wait for FDA responses to lengthy consumer group petitions, but can occur at lightning speed as a result of social media campaigns that go viral. Many of those campaigns are based more on political science than sound science. It's a confusing minefield for both manufacturers and the public," attorney Silverglade said.

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