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Dark chocolates from popular brands such as Hershey's contain toxic levels of heavy metals

By: April Carson

Consumer Reports recently released a study that revealed dark chocolate, which is viewed as healthier than most other sugary snacks, may contain potentially hazardous levels of heavy metals. The study looked at popular brands such as Hershey's and found that their dark chocolate bars contained high levels of cadmium, lead, and other metals.

In a recent analysis of 28 popular brands of dark chocolate, scientists from the nonprofit advocacy organization discovered that all bars contained both lead and cadmium. Astonishingly, consuming just one ounce a day would put 23 adult consumers over harmful levels for at least one metal—with five bars containing excessive amounts of both! This research has highlighted the importance of being mindful when choosing what we consume.

When it comes to dark chocolate, consumers should be aware of the potential heavy metal content. If possible, opt for organic varieties and aim to consume in moderation.

According to experts, even minimal long-term exposure to heavy metals can have detrimental effects on health, especially during early development stages. This may include disruptions in brain development and other issues among young children.

Tunde Akinleye, the CR food safety researcher who spearheaded the testing of lead levels in food products warned that people of any age are potentially at risk.

Regular exposure to heavy metals such as lead can have dire consequences on an individual's health- nervous system damage, hypertension, immune system suppression and even kidney and reproductive harm could occur. Furthermore, long-term exposure to these toxic metals can even lead to cancer. Therefore, it is essential that we take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our families from consuming unhealthy levels of heavy metals in certain food products.

After testing a variety of chocolate bars, the Consumer Reports team discovered that most brands had alarming amounts of lead and cadmium present. However, five options showed low levels of both metals - giving consumers an option for a healthier indulgence!

Akinleye declared that businesses have the capability of designing safer products with reduced levels of heavy metals, as well as customers having access to secure items they will love.

In assessing the risks of chocolate, Consumer Reports utilized California's maximum dose level for lead (0.5 micrograms) and cadmium (4.1 micrograms), as federal guidelines are lacking in this area.

At the end of their research, they found that dark chocolates from popular brands such as Hershey’s, Russell Stover, and Godiva all contained toxic levels of heavy metals - exceeding both California's and European Union's safety standards.

According to Consumer Reports, Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate was recorded with a lead concentration 265% higher than the permissible limit set forth by California standards. Even more shocking, Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao possessed 192% beyond what is considered safe. When asked for a statement in response to these findings, Trader Joe’s failed to provide any comment.

These results are alarming, as consuming too much lead has been linked to neurological and reproductive problems in humans.

When queried, Hershey's spokesperson referred to the National Confectioners Association for a statement. The organization promptly responded with an email expressing their dissent over CR relying on California-set standards since they are not in agreement with federal food safety criteria.

However, this does not discount the fact that toxic levels of lead have been found in products from both Hershey’s and Trader Joe's. It is important for consumers to be aware of the potential health risks associated with these brands of dark chocolate.

The group's spokesperson asserted in a correspondence to CBS MoneyWatch that their products have been constructed with stringent quality and safety standards. They prioritize food security and product excellence above all else, vowing to remain open about their operations and focused on social responsibility.

The Confectioners Association recently released research that revealed methods to reduce the presence of lead and cadmium in chocolate, including planting new tree stock. Consumers Reports have identified the safest options, which include:

  • Organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance-certified chocolates. While these options are not necessarily free of heavy metals, they have been identified as the safest choices.

  • Mast Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cocoa was found to contain 14% less lead and 40% less cadmium than is permitted by California standards, with an ounce containing the most significant amount of these two minerals.

  • Taza Chocolate Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao contained an impressive 67% less lead and 26% less cadmium compared to other chocolates.

  • Compared to other dark chocolates, Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cacao has significantly lower lead and cadmium levels of 36% and 39%, respectively.

  • Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao provides an intense chocolate flavor, with lead and cadmium levels at 63% and 73%, respectively - well below industry standards.

In conclusion, dark chocolate is a delicious indulgence that can be enjoyed without the worry of toxic heavy metal levels. Consumers should always read labels and research brands to ensure they are purchasing products with low levels of lead and cadmium. When done correctly, dark chocolates can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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