Should you worry about lead in your dark chocolate bar? :npr

Some researchers are now warning of worrying levels of heavy metals in some dark chocolate bars.

David Izquierdo/500px Plus/Getty Images

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David Izquierdo/500px Plus/Getty Images

Some researchers are now warning of worrying levels of heavy metals in some dark chocolate bars.

David Izquierdo/500px Plus/Getty Images

Dark chocolate has long been touted as having health benefits. We have been saying it can improve our mood, decrease inflammation, and even increase blood flow.

But some researchers are now warning about heavy metals in some of our favorite dark chocolate bars.

Consumer Reports tested 28 dark chocolate bars, including Dove, Ghirardelli, Lindt, and Hershey’s, for lead and cadmium. For 23 of those bars, just one ounce of chocolate violates California law. maximum allowable dose levels (MADL) for lead or cadmium, which are 0.5 micrograms and 4.1 micrograms per day, respectively, the publication said.

The typical chocolate bar ranges freely between 1.5 ounces and 3.5 ounces.

The California limitations set by proposition 65 they are some of the most protective in the country, according to Consumer Reports. The US Food and Drug Administration offers looser recommendations for daily lead intake at 2.2 micrograms for children and 8.8 micrograms for women of childbearing age.

As examples cited by Consumer Reports, one ounce of Lindt’s Excellence Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa or Dove’s Promises Deeper Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa exceeds acceptable levels of cadmium, while one ounce of Godiva’s Signature Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa or Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate exceeds acceptable lead levels.

Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cocoa had higher levels of lead and cadmium than California limits. Trader Joe’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The National Association of Pastry Chefs, which It represents Chocolate makers, including Hershey’s, Lindt and Godiva, reached an agreement in 2018 with how you sowa group that advocates for the application of Proposition 65. The agreement established concentration levels for lead and cadmium requiring warning labels if exceeded. The association maintains that the industry has adhered to the levels established by the agreement.

“The products cited in this study meet strict quality and safety requirements, and the levels provided to us by Consumer Reports tests are well below the limits set by our agreement,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the association. “Food safety and product quality remain our top priorities and we remain dedicated to being transparent and socially responsible.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine toxicologist Andrew Stolbach told NPR that the MADLs will be “very conservative” to account for people most at risk due to their age and other medical conditions. When chocolate is consumed in moderate amounts, lead and cadmium levels are not a concern, he says.

“The safety levels for lead and cadmium are set to be very protective, and exceeding them by a modest amount is not something you need to worry about,” he said. “If you make sure that the rest of your diet is good and sufficient in calcium and iron, you will further protect yourself by preventing the absorption of some lead and cadmium in your diet.”

Important cadmium exposure can cause lung cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm, while important lead exposure it can slow the growth and development of children and damage the brain and nervous system.

But Consumer Reports the tests showed that it is also possible for the dark chocolate bars to maintain low levels of heavy metals, as five of the 28 bars had lead and cadmium levels in line with California limitations.

The agreement between the confectioners’ association and As You Sow, an organization that promotes corporate social responsibility, required both parties to conduct a multi-year study to understand the root causes of heavy metals in chocolate and strategies to reduce them. these levels. The report a discussion of the findings of a three-year study was published in August.

The researchers found that the cadmium in cacao beans comes naturally from the soil and is transported directly to the beans by the cacao tree. Lead contamination occurs after harvest, when wet cocoa beans are exposed to soil and dust during the drying, fermentation, and transport phases.

“The industry should communicate to farmers the value of implementing Best Agricultural Practices related to reducing wet contact of the cocoa bean with the soil during fermentation and drying,” wrote Timothy Ahn, co-author of the report that manage food safety at Lloyd’s Register. “Drying of wet beans in direct contact with soil, road surfaces, and concrete patios should be discontinued as a farmer-controllable Pb (lead) reduction activity.”

Reducing the contact of wet cocoa beans with dirt and dust can reduce the lead content in chocolate by between 10% and more than 25%, according to co-author and toxicologist Michael DiBartolomeis.

Other ways to reduce heavy metal levels include mixing cacao beans high in cadmium with those with lower levels, identifying areas of contamination, and conducting more robust testing, according to the As You Sow report.

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