About the author

Bridget Huber is a FairWarning contributor.

9 comments to “Warning Sounded on Heavy Metals in Chocolates”

  1. ANDREW CHIN

    Great article! Thanks so much for posting.

    I wonder to what extent the phytic acid in chocolate would keep your body from absorbing the lead and cadmium. Phytic acid chelate minerals your body needs, like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. However, it might also chelate heavy metals as well, since heavy metals are by definition minerals.

    Interesting observation about the five-year old child who tested high in lead and cadmium. Children obviously consume more food per pound of body weight, so that might be part of the issue. Also, the enzyme, immune and detoxification systems in children are not yet mature, so perhaps that might also be contributing to the absorption of heavy metals into the body.

  2. Greg Williams

    What about organic products from equal exchange? Especially their cocoa. Any of those tested by your organization? They say they test them themselves and are satisfied, but won’t disclose quantitative results.

  3. JB

    Doug Baldwin,
    >> I will have to limit my treats to organic, free range, sustainable growth, high end
    >> 100% pure peanut butter.

    Have you heard of the aflatoxin problem with peanut butter?
    I stopped buying fresh-ground organic peanut butter from Whole Foods last year.

    Let’s face it; the only thing left to eat is lacinato kale.

  4. Erica

    Does cocoa powder alone have the same contamination?

  5. Rachel C

    I just came across this info yesterday about heavy metals in chocolate. It just so happens that I’m a big “Green & Black’s organic 85% dark chocolate” fan. That is to say, for nearly two years I have had a bar in my house at all times. I love it as a little snack for my young boys because it’s casein free and low in sugar. My 5 yr old gets 2 squares most days of the week, sometimes 4 squares. It just so happens that he recently had a heavy metals test done. Two of the three slightly elevated metals that showed up were lead and cadmium! I’m floored. No more chocolate for us.

  6. Roy Lay

    Great article! Very well written. Anyone know how much tougher California’s laws are than the FDA’s? Oh, and Bridget, I saw this was also published in the Arizona Sentinel. Hope that doesn’t mean you live there. I did as a child, and just loved the desert. Have a couple friends that still live there and they keep me up on the latest politics there. Like stepping back into the 19th century.

  7. Doug Baldwin

    I am terribly sorry for jumping the gun Bridget and your reply was kind and calm. So, the paragraph that was accidentally left out is exactly what I was missing. Perfect! And, learning that the protocols of Prop 65 normally require not publicizing complaint test details early in the process also was very helpful to learn and helps explain the data presentation as it is here. So, I feel a bit like someone who has chocolate on his face, but am very glad to have read your article. I guess in the mean time, until more is decided, I will have to limit my treats to organic, free range, sustainable growth, high end 100% pure peanut butter.

  8. admin_bridget

    Hi Doug:

    Thanks for reading and for your comment. First of all, thanks to you, we realized an important paragraph was dropped during the editing process — it’s now been restored (paragraph 4) and gives somewhat more specific information about the degree to which the products tested allegedly exceed California’s safe harbor levels. We weren’t able to get the specific levels of each product, since at this stage in the Prop 65 process it’s customary to keep specific lab results confidential since lawsuits are possibly pending.

    As you can see, California’s standards are much stricter than the FDA’s recommended levels.

    Thanks again for your comment (except for the part where you compare me to Brian Williams ;))

    Best,

    Bridget

  9. Doug Baldwin

    Interesting well balanced article on all sides. I love my dark chocolate. I do take note of the sentence: “The Food and Drug Administration recommends that candy likely to be eaten by children contain less than 0.1 parts per million lead. Some of the products tested by As You Sow exceeded this level, van Vliet said, though she said she could not share specific data because of the dispute.” This appears in the 24th graph down and fourth from the end. So we learn late we won’t get specific detail, just allegations and spin of their meaning, we don’t know anything about how much the levels of safety have been exceeded by. That seems a little unfair to make worrisome accusations and then withhold the details because there is a “dispute.” If As You Sow did the test why not release the actual results and not spin them? Many other whistle blowers weren’t worried about “disputes,” and they released the actual details to speak for themselves. The word “some” stands out also in the sentence quoted, as it potentially means “not all,” which then means by not releasing details, all chocolate makers tested are still lumped in with the bad ones who failed, and that isn’t fair either, if that is true.

    In the age of revelations about NBC anchor Brian Williams, the journalistic lesson is that precision about details is important, so that vagueness and spin doesn’t inflate the interest of stories beyond the actual reality of the precise detail, which must be allowed existence so that people can know the truth and true interest for themselves.

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