Halloween is less than a week away and the holidays are right around the corner. Non-profit organization and advocacy group Consumer Reports found “concerning” levels of lead or cadmium in a third of the chocolate products it tested.
Health research and experts say long exposure to heavy metals can cause health problems.
The group tested dark and milk chocolate bars, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, hot chocolate, as well as brownie and cake mixes. According to the results, detectable amounts of the two heavy metals were found in all 48 products tested.
“Sixteen of the 48 products had amounts above CR’s levels of concern for at least one of the heavy metals—in some cases more than twice our limit—but we did find safer options in each category of chocolate products,” James E. Rogers, PhD, director and acting head of product safety testing at Consumer Reports said in the report.
Dark chocolate had higher levels of lead and cadmium. Milk chocolate had lower.
Consumer Reports also called on the Hershey Company to “reduce heavy metal levels in all of its chocolate products.” The group’s tests found the company’s milk chocolate had the highest levels of lead.
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“Toxic levels of heavy metals like lead and cadmium shouldn’t be found in our favorite chocolate products,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “Our tests have found that other brands have succeeded in producing chocolate products with lower levels of heavy metals that are safer for consumers. As a leading and popular brand, it’s time for Hershey’s to make a firm, time-bound commitment to get dangerous levels of heavy metals out of its chocolate products.”
The Hershey Company did not immediately respond to WINK News’ request for comment.
Consumer Reports reached out to the industry trade group National Confectioners Association and the Food and Drug Administration for comment on their findings and published their responses in their report.
“Chocolate and cocoa are safe to eat and can be enjoyed as treats, as they have been for centuries,” said senior vice president of public affairs and communications for the National Confectioners Association Christopher Gindlesperger. “Food safety and product quality remain our highest priorities, and we remain dedicated to being transparent and socially responsible.”
The Food and Drug Administration said “While the presence of cadmium and lead in chocolate has been the subject of considerable media attention, experts from around the world have found that chocolate is a minor source of exposure to these contaminants internationally.”
The agency added that “all food manufacturers and processors are responsible for ensuring the safety of their food.”