A new report indicates that dark chocolate, often touted as a healthy food to add to your diet, may in fact contain elements dangerous to your health.
Consumer Reports examined 28 different dark chocolate bars sold to consumers and found that every single one of them contained amounts of cadmium and lead. Children ingesting lead can suffer brain and nervous system damage as well as slower growth and development in addition to hearing and speech problems. Low levels of cadmium have been linked to kidney cancer and fragile bones.
“For 23 of the bars, eating just an ounce a day would put an adult over a level that public health authorities and CR’s experts say may be harmful for at least one of those heavy metals,” Consumer Reports stated. “Five of the bars were above those levels for both cadmium and lead.”
“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),” Consumer Reports acknowledged.
“There are risks for people of any age,” Tunde Akinleye, the food safety researcher who led the Consumer Reports project, stated.
Among the 28 bars studied, Mast, Taza, and Valrhona each produced one bar with relatively low levels of both lead and cadmium; Ghirardelli produced two.
Although the cocoa solids within dark chocolate contain flavanols, which are antioxidants that have many health benefits, heavy metals such as cadmium are also found in the cocoa solids.
Cadmium is ingested by cacao plants from the soil; as the cacao tree grows the metal accumulates. But lead is usually found on the outer shell of the cocoa bean and increases as the sun dries the beans.
Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association, responded to the Consumer Reports news, stating that dark chocolate “can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries,” adding, “The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements,” as TODAY reported.
“The FDA monitors and regulates levels of environmental contaminants, including lead and cadmium, in foods,” a spokeswoman for the FDA said, adding, “If the agency finds that the level of a contaminant causes the food to be unsafe, we take action, which may include working with the manufacturer to resolve the issue and taking steps to prevent the product from entering, or remaining in, the U.S. market.”