Dark chocolate is known as a great alternative to milk chocolate because of its health benefits. It contains less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. It also contains antioxidants which help prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive diseases.

But last month, Consumer Reports, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, published an article reporting that some dark chocolate contains alarming levels of the heavy metals cadmium and lead. Cadmium and lead can build up in the body over time. They have been linked to serious health problems in children and adults including kidney damage, reproductive problems, developmental delays, immune system suppression, and cancer.

Which brands of dark chocolate contain cadmium and lead?

Consumer Reports tested heavy metals in 28 chocolate bars. Approximately 23 of them contained potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium, or both. Those brands include Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Dove, Godiva, Lindt, Lily’s, Green & Black’s, and Theo.

Consumer Reports concluded that five chocolate bars have cadmium and lead levels below concerning levels. The five bars are manufactured by Mast, Taza Chocolate, Ghirardelli, and Valrhona. According to the report, these are the safest to eat.

Have these products been recalled by the FDA?

No dark chocolate products have been recalled by the FDA. This is because the FDA has not set any limits on cadmium and lead in chocolate bars.

But some states have established regulations regarding chemicals in consumer products, including cadmium and lead. For example, California requires warnings. Manufacturers of products containing certain chemicals must provide “clear and reasonable” warnings if a product contains a chemical that poses a risk of cancer or other injury.

Have lawsuits been filed?

Class action lawsuits have been filed in California and New York federal courts against The Hershey Company, Trader Joe’s, Mars, Inc, Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., and others. The lawsuits claim that these companies knew their products contain elevated levels of lead and cadmium, and should have warned consumers. In not doing so, the companies engaged in deceptive marketing practices.

If you think you have an illness as a result of ingesting dark chocolate, please have your blood tested for elevated levels of cadmium and/or lead. Please also contact the FDA.

All of Consumer Reports’ findings can be found here: Lead and Cadmium Could Be in Your Dark Chocolate – Consumer Reports

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