You might have seen the news report earlier this year, that toxic metals lead and cadmium were found in many popular chocolate products. Does this mean you should not eat chocolate? Of course not! Let’s break down the facts:
In December 2022, Consumer Reports measured 28 dark chocolate bars and found cadmium and lead in ALL of them. The most popular ones were Dove, Hershey, Ghirardelli and Lily’s. Using, California’s maximum allowable dose level (MADL) for lead (0.5 micrograms) and cadmium (4.1 micrograms), Consumer Reports found the following:
|Company/Brand||Lead % (High % in red)||Cadmium %|
|Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacoa||265||30|
|Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacoa||192||136|
|Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate 70% Cacoa||48||116|
|Dove Promises Deeper Dark Chocolate 70% Cacoa||74||112|
|Lily’s Extra Dark Chocolate 70% Cacoa||144||42|
|Godiva Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cacoa||146||25|
|Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate 85% Cacoa||166||80|
How the chocolate is harvested and produced may increase the toxic metal content of the chocolate. Lead gets into the cacao beans after they are harvested, as the beans dry in the sun lead filled dust and dirt get onto the beans, manufacturers are working on shorter drying time to reduce lead. Cadmium is found in older cacao trees, therefore farmers are working on replacing with younger ones.
How Much is Too Much?
The FDA has issued guidance on acceptable concentrations of certain metals in food, but it doesn’t regulate chocolate. The FDA limits of lead are 2.2 micrograms (µg) per day for children and 8.8 µg per day for females of childbearing age. Eating an entire Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacoa will yield a little over 1.5 micrograms of lead, under the FDA regulation.
Tips for Reducing Your Toxic Metal Exposure
Dark chocolate is safe in smaller amounts, though women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children should limit their intake. Eat small servings of chocolate, yes like one of those mini Dove’ Chocolates. If you must have chocolate daily, alternating with small amounts of milk chocolate and reduce your dark cacoa percentage, will decrease toxic metal exposure. Continue to work on eating a balanced diet high in iron, calcium and vitamin C which can help reduce toxic metal absorption. See a Registered Dietitian if you need help with lifestyle change, small changes over time lead to big results!