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17 Chocolate Brands Whose Products Contain Heavy Metals Lead and Cadmium

Update (August 2017): In an effort to protect consumers, the European Union has released new guidelines for cadmium exposure thresholds that will take effect January 2019:
– Milk chocolate with less than 30% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.10 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Chocolate with more than 50% total dry cocoa solids and milk chocolate with more than 30% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.30 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Chocolate with more than 50% total dry cocoa solids cannot contain more than 0.80 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
– Cocoa powder sold to the final consumer or as an ingredient in sweetened cocoa powder sold to the final consumer (drinking chocolate) cannot contain more than 0.60 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium 

According to Confectionery News, an industry publication, “No limit values exist for cadmium in chocolate in the U.S. However, California requires a warning label on products with more than 4.1 mg of cadmium per daily serving of a single product. The FDA has also set a guidance limit of 0.1 ppm for lead in candy consumed by young children.” 


OAKLAND, CA – March 23, 2016 – Consumer health watchdog As You Sow released results showing that 35 of 50 chocolate products tested, including chocolate bunnies and eggs, expose consumers to lead and cadmium above levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

Testing commissioned by As You Sow, and conducted at independent laboratories, indicates that the chocolate products contain lead and/or cadmium, and they fail to provide the legally required warning to consumers.

As You Sow has filed legal notices against chocolate manufacturers, including Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Green and Black’s, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, Godiva, See’s Candies, Mars, Theo Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Ghirardelli, Earth Circle Organics, and more, for failure to warn of lead and/or cadmium in their chocolate products.

“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children,” said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant.

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