Heavy metals found in dark chocolate in new report

Dark chocolate: 2018 study reveals the health benefits

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Twenty-eight dark chocolate bars, including brands such as Lindt, tested positive for lead and cadmium. The Consumers Reports watchdog measured how much lead and cadmium was found in the chocolates. The levels of lead and cadmium were compared against the standards set by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

The standards – which are set for general exposure and not food safety – state people should not be exposed to more than 0.5mcg of lead and 4.1mcg of cadmium per day.

Yet, 82 percent of the bars tested contained up to two-and-a-half times more lead than the suggested upper limit, and up to three times higher than the cadmium limit.

Five bars had more lead and cadmium than the recommended limits:

  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lover’s 85 percent cacao
  • Green and Black’s Organic dark chocolate 70 percent cacao
  • Lily’s extremely dark chocolate 85 percent cocoa
  • Two bars made by Theo’s.

Only five chocolate bars and levels below the acceptable standards, made by Ghirardelli, Valrhona, Taza Chocolate and Mast.

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Adverse health effects of lead exposure

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of lead poisoning, which occurs when a person is exposed to “very high levels” over a short period of time.

Lead poisoning can lead to abdominal pain, constipation, tiredness, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, memory loss, and tingling limbs.

“People with prolonged exposure to lead may also be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility,” the CDC adds.

Lead exposure can also lead to anaemia, bodily weakness, as well as kidney and brain damage.

Experts at Consumer Reports did state that an ounce of any of the chocolates they tested for lead are unlikely to cause any harm.

A person would need to overindulge by eating dark chocolate in large quantities, and every day, to be at risk of long-term health risks.

Adverse health effects of cadmium exposure

Cadmium is a natural element found in the Earth’s crust, which can be absorbed by plants, such as the cacao tree.

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The CDC says: “When eaten, large amounts of cadmium can severely irritate the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea.”

Cadmium is also associated with kidney disease and fragile bones, and is considered a “cancer-causing agent”.

However, “finding a measurable amount of cadmium in blood or urine does not imply that the levels of cadmium cause an adverse health effect”.

As for the chocolate bars, the Consumer Reports add that you would have to consume a great amount of dark chocolate for it to be a health threat.

The National Confectioners Association — speaking on behalf of chocolate manufacturers — said: “Dark chocolate can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries.

“The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements.

“The OEHHA standards cited in the Consumer Reports study are not food safety standards.

“The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements.

“And the levels provided to us by Consumer Reports testing are well under the limits established by our settlement.”

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