High Levels of Heavy Metals Found in Popular Chocolate Brands
Companies claim heavy metals are "naturally occurring"
As You Sow, a California-based health watchdog group, has just warned that some of our favorite chocolate treats contain unsafe levels of heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. The button below takes you to a graphic with the results.
According to the group, chronic exposure to cadmium is known to cause kidney, liver, and bone damage, and some of the top brands in the U.S. contain far too much of it – up to 7 times as much as the daily limit allowed in California. As You Sow states in its updated survey that some chocolates contain 9 times the daily amount of lead the state considers safe to avoid reproductive harm. Lead exposure can also reduce IQ and cause neurological damage. There is no safe level of lead for children.
Fifty different cocoa samples were obtained by the group and analyzed by an independent lab. More than half contained lead and cadmium levels exceeding California’s limits, which are more stringent than federal guidelines.
As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar said they had been putting too much faith in chocolate producers: “We assumed that companies were testing their products before they put them on the market, but they’re not.”
As You Sow won’t disclose the exact amounts of heavy metals they found in the samples, as it hopes to work directly with manufacturers to pinpoint the sources of the cadmium and lead.
Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, told CNN: “Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products.”
The brands of chocolate using the cocoa found to contain high levels of heavy metals weren’t obscure names unfamiliar to coca lovers. Many of them were brands sold in nearly every grocery store in the U.S., including Hershey’s, Chocolove, Earth Circle Foods, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Theo Chocolate, Sees Candies, Dove, Trader Joe’s, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Cadbury, Godiva, Mars, and Whole Foods.
Lead was found in 17 of the tested chocolates, including Cadbury’s Royal Dark Mini Eggs and Royal Dark Chocolate Bar, Godiva’s 72% and 50% cacao dark chocolate, and Hershey’s Special Dark. Cadmium was found in 7 of the chocolates, including Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight and Dove’s Dark Chocolate.
The shocking findings didn’t seem to rattle most of the chocolatiers, according to As You Sow. Upon approaching the companies with the numbers, just 2 of the manufacturers asked to work with the group to solve the issue. The other companies disputed the findings, and said their products are safe to eat and the heavy metals come from naturally occurring sources.
“Chocolove: ‘The types and amounts of elements in a food product can come from soil and the natural growing of the plant or from food processing. There is a significant distinction between natural occurring components of the soil and the plant being in food, versus contamination added by incorrect food contact surfaces adding elements to the food.’
Earth Circle Foods: ‘We’re involved in discussions with As You Sow, we dispute these claims. We have a testing program in place and we believe that this product is safe.’
Hershey Company: ‘People have been eating cocoa and chocolate safely for centuries. Consumers can rest assured that our products are safe, and that our industry adheres to all government regulations.’
Lake Champlain Chocolates: ‘Per Proposition 65, the labeling requirement does NOT apply to low levels of substances found in foods that are naturally occurring. …There is no process at our factory that contributes to lead or cadmium levels in chocolate.’
Theo Chocolate: ‘We are evaluating the issues raised by this claim. … We are fully confident in both the quality and safety of Theo Chocolate products … we take robust measures to ensure the safety of our products.’
See’s Candies: ‘See’s regularly evaluates its products to assure compliance with all state and federal guidelines.’”
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) said: “Some minerals – like cadmium and lead – are found naturally in many foods, including seafood, peanuts, potatoes, grains, leafy vegetables and – sometimes – cocoa beans. Cocoa-based foods are consumed in small amounts and are not a major source of these minerals in the diet.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also chimed in, saying: “People have been eating cocoa and chocolate for centuries with no evidence of a single incident of concern regarding these naturally occurring minerals.”
However, an independent 2005 study found chocolate contained some of the highest concentrations of lead in food. And despite the NCA’s claim that chocolate is consumed in small amounts, As You Sow says the average American consumes about 9.5 pounds of it each year, and that volume is increasing and that is the real concern!
But don’t let this deter you from eating ALL chocolate! There are many health benefits of chocolate – especially dark chocolate. This link will take you to an archived section of my Phytonutrient Blog, scroll down and you will find a post all about the health benefits of drinking hot coco!
Other Recent Alerts...
This is a major health concern to me and I just had to pass it on to you!
As most of us know, in many developing countries wastewater treatment systems are hardly functioning or have a very low coverage, resulting in large scale water pollution and the use of very poor quality water for crop irrigation especially in the vicinity of urban centers. This can create significant risks to public health, particularly where crops are eaten raw. But here in the United States polluted or poison crops is not a problem, right?
Well, we may have a reason for concern! As California's epic drought wears on, Southern California farms are using an increasing amount of oil wastewater. In 2014, oil companies such as Chevron provided half the water that went to the 45,000 acres of farmland in Kern County's Cawelo Water District, up from about 35 percent before the start of the drought in 2011. And California Resources Corp., the state's largest oil company, recently announced plans to quadruple the amount of water it sells to farmers. Recycled irrigation water has been used to some degree for decades, but the testing has been limited to naturally occurring toxins, like salt and arsenic. Officially, no testing is done for the chemicals used in oil production. While farmers test crops for pests or diseases, they don't test them for chemicals that may have absorbed through the roots from water. They figure that the water authorities are looking out for that. So basically, everyone expects that someone else does the testing, and no one does the testing. Nuts, citrus, and grapes may be highly contaminated but no one knows for sure. Yummy, right?
This is what independent testing of the oil industry waste water showed… One environmental group took it upon themselves to test samples of the treated irrigation water. Water Defense, an advocacy group founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, discovered something very unsettling. Mark Smith, the scientist who took samples for Water Defense, has been a consultant for the EPA on more than 50 oil spills. He took samples from areas of the canal that were publicly accessible and put them through comprehensive testing. He found acetone and methylene chloride. These are solvents used to remove grease from equipment and soften crude oil, and said that the concentrations in the water were higher than he had seen at oil spill disaster sites. He also found C20 and C34, hydrocarbons found in oil. Smith, the Water Defense scientist, has consulted for the Environmental Protection Agency and other government offices on more than 50 oil spills and spent two years studying the oil wastewater used for irrigation in Kern County. He traveled the eight-mile Cawelo canal, taking samples of the water as it moved from Chevron's oil fields through the irrigation canals to farmers' fields. He said he gathered samples only from areas that were publicly accessible. He took samples from 10 points, collecting water from a number of depths at each site through a process that he said is more comprehensive than the sampling state and local authorities require. Methlyene chloride, by the way, is classified as a carcinogen. Methylene chloride and acetone are used as solvents in many industrial settings.
Here's a horrifying example: "One sample of the recycled Cawelo irrigation water, for example, registered methylene chloride as high as 56 parts per billion. Smith said that was nearly four times the amount of methylene chloride registered when he tested oil-fouled river at the 2013 ExxonMobil tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Ark. That spill was declared a federal disaster, spurred evacuations and resulted in a $2.7-million fine for the company. Chevron has claimed repeatedly that it does not use acetone or methylene chloride in its oil extraction process. The company, however, would not disclose the fluids it does use in drilling or well maintenance."
But don't worry. It's perfectly safe. (Sure it is!!!)
The water district is unconcerned. Mark Smith, a board member of the Cawelo Water District who grows pistachios and citrus using treated water from Chevron, said he had "never heard a word" about contamination from the oil production process and is satisfied that the water testing is adequate. Glenn Fankhauser, assistant director of the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards, concurs. "As long as they're treating the water to the point where it's allowed by whatever agency governs the quality of water, I think it would be OK." Note the blithe unconcern shown by those who are, of course, profiting greatly from the use of toxic water to irrigate food crops. The thing that blows my mind is how small family farms are being regulated out of business to keep us "safe" but this stuff goes on and no one in "authority" bats an eyelash. But somehow, we who are concerned about the fact that those with lots of money are not regulated are the kooky conspiracy nuts! As I've written about at length, with regard to something as important as water, you must take the responsibility for safety upon yourself.
So, as it turns out, those cute little Halo oranges aren't really very angelic. An environmental group called Food and Water Watch received a list from the district of the names and addresses of companies that use its water. Look for these labels in the grocery store, and avoid them until/unless they are proven safe, because they are most likely grown using oil industry wastewater.
Sunview (table grapes, raisins, persimmons, and prune plums)
Wonderful Citrus (Halos and Cuties – this company also owns Fiji Water, POM Wonderful, and the world's largest pistachio and almond growing operation)
Trinchero Family Estates (wine)
Bee Sweet Citrus (mandarins, oranges, and lemons)
It all comes back to my same old refrain: If you don't grow it yourself or at least know, and trust, the grower personally, you really can't trust it. I believe with all my heart that we must go back to the days when food was sourced locally so that we can be our own watchdogs!
Killer Corn Flakes?
There is a very good reason that the Kellogg’s corporation spent over $1,012,000 on media propaganda in California & Washington State to defeat voter ballot initiatives that would have required the labeling of GMO foods, and now are contributing again to the defeat of labeling initiatives in Oregon, spending at least another quarter of a million dollars.
A consumer recently sent a box of Kellogg’s Froot Loops to a lab for genetic testing and found that the corn and soy used in the cereal are 100% RoundUp Ready GMO. So is the sugar. Never mind the other toxic ingredients in the cereal. This means that in one box of Kellogg’s cereal (and likely all their cereals contain similar GMO products), you are dining on a double dose of glyphosate and Bt toxins – glyphosate being patented as an ‘antibiotic’ by Monsanto in 2011.
Kellogg’s has been making cereal since 1898, but I seriously doubt its founders ever thought it would be poisoning the world at breakfast every morning. Not only is the corn in Froot Loops sprayed with RoundUp, which is, of course, a pesticide in its own right, registered with and regulated by the EPA. But it isn’t just Froot Loops that is of concern, for all of you who avoid sugar-laden cereals. The ‘healthful’ Kellogg’s brands are full of the stuff, too.
Kellogg’s claims that, even though they don’t use genetically engineered ingredients in Europe, in the U.S., “consumer concerns about the usage of biotech ingredients in food production are low.”
Kashi, Bare Naked, Morningstar Farms, and Gardenburger – all brands you probably have been relying on as healthful foods to feed your family – are also contaminated! Kellogg’s has promised to change the labeling on their Kashi brands – but they also promised that their products had hardly any GMOs in them in the first place! This was a lie.
Kellogg’s is feeding children pesticides & antibiotics, without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Does that bother you? Frankly it ticks me off to no end! The question is, are we going to tolerate that? Are you going to tolerate that? You can bet that the ‘vigorous testing of their products is a lie, too. They told us that all these brands were verified as non-GMO.
GOLEAN Crunch!® Honey Almond Flax
GOLEAN Crisp!® Cinnamon Crumble
GOLEAN Crisp!® Toasted Berry Crumble
7 Whole Grain Flakes
7 Whole Grain Puffs
7 Whole Grain Pilaf
The truth? Kashi lied. Cornucopia Institute tested Kashi’s GoLean cereal and found it to contain 100% genetically engineered soy! What was the company’s response? Basiclly it was that we all need to "Just get used to GMO contamination!" In response to the question, “Do you use GMO ingredients?” Kashi said, “factors such as pollen drift from nearby crops and current practices in agricultural storage, handling, and shipping, has led to an environment in North America where GMOs are not sufficiently segregated. As a result, some of our foods include ingredients made from genetically engineered crops.”
You can boycott them, petition them, or call them at 1 (800) 962-1413, but what ever you decide to do I encourage you to do something! And I suggest you make it very clear to these companies that you won’t be eating their poison products any longer. Enough is not only enough it is too damn much!!!!