Bittersweet or Dark: Some Organic Chocolate Still Has Heavy Metals
Adding a Valentine's chocolate bar to your cart at the grocery check-out? Check the brand. In late December last year Consumer Reports released its independent testing that found significant levels of heavy metals in most brands of chocolate. In fact, this has been an issue for at least twenty years. Organic licensing looks for specific agricultural practices that have nothing to do with testing for heavy metals. While it’s been determined that “no level of lead or cadmium is safe” there is no required testing for them or labeling laws about them. That being said, it's in our environment and completely unavoidable. Consumer Reports used California’s standards of “safe” levels because there is no standard metric for the safety of heavy metals in foods and California states is the “most consumer protective.”
Chocolate that tests high for lead is most likely from low-grade harvesting and cleaning. As the cocoa beans are laid out on giant tarps in the open air, lead is likely in the surrounding dust from roads or equipment used for processing. Lead is avoidable by moving the cocoa indoors sooner and keeping it sealed from environmental contaminants. Cadmium is less fixable. It’s assumed that Cadmium is absorbed by the trees, and a higher concentration of it ends up in the cocoa beans.
Some plants absorb more cadmium than others, particularly grains like rice and root vegetables (potatoes, carrots) naturally take up cadmium. On one hand, heavy metal exposure is difficult to avoid in our current world. That being said, if there’s a choice in picking a chocolate brand that tests lower for lead than the one next to it, why not grab the lower-lead chocolate bar? Get an in-depth list and consider donating to a watchdog to: As You SowThe following is taken from Consumer Reports: