Warning: This Popular Sweet May Be Poisoning You

  • One of America’s most loved desserts has a toxic secret
  • Sugar is not your only concern when it comes to this indulgence. Find out what is lurking in your dessert
  • One list that can make or break your confectionary decisions.

Dear Reader,

Every time you bite into your dessert, do you think, “Wow, these toxins taste wonderful?”

Well, maybe you should.

Recently, new evidence has surfaced that one of America’s most favored confections is chock-full of contaminants.

And surprisingly, I’m not talking about sugar.

Data from the National Confectioners Association shows that most Americans are enjoying this treat twice a week.1

And this sweet is so popular that the average American consumes 9.5 pounds of it annually.2

Not to mention this dark and delicious food has weaved its way into all types of foods, from cakes, cookies, and candies to savories like bacon and mac ’n’ cheese.

If you haven’t guess it yet, I am talking about chocolate — and it’s nearly impossible to escape it in the modern dietscape.

--Death by Chocolate

Well, maybe death is a little extreme…

But these new results do show that chocolate consumers are at risk for some pretty serious health issues — especially children.

Last month, a California-based consumer health watchdog group called As You Sow found many of the big-name chocolate companies are selling products riddled with toxic heavy metals.

These metals include cadmium and lead.

Lead exposure is associated with multiple health issues, including memory loss and declining mental functions in adults, but has even more devastating results in children.3

These include behavioral issues like increased antisocial behavior, reduced attention span, and even lower IQ in children. All of these negative health effects are thought to be irreversible in children.4

No level of lead is safe for children and pregnant women.

Cadmium exposures can lead to kidney damage and bone issues. Long-term intake of cadmium may lead to softening of the bones, osteoporosis, and cancer.5

When As You Sow conducted tests of 26 products in their single serving size three times, they found they all contained more lead and cadmium than allowed by California law.6

Among these were Godiva, Hershey, Mars, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods brands.

Hershey’s director of corporate communications, Jeff Beckman, defended their products. In a statement to The Washington Post:

 The [Food and Drug Association] and many states monitor the amount of cadmium and lead in food. All Hershey products meet all FDA and state standards, and our cocoa powder and chocolate are safe to eat. This includes the very strict Proposition 65 standards for lead and cadmium in candy and other products.1

He went on to say, “People have been eating cocoa and chocolate for centuries with no evidence of a single incident of concern regarding these naturally occurring minerals.”1

But researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz disagree. A study they published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that these high levels of lead found in chocolate are not from a natural source.

One of the researchers from the study, Russ Flegal, stated this about the possible sources:

The average lead concentration of cocoa beans was ≤ 0.5 ng/g, which is one of the lowest reported values for a natural food. In contrast, lead concentrations of manufactured cocoa and chocolate products were as high as 230 and 70 ng/g, respectively, which are consistent with market-basket surveys that have repeatedly listed lead concentrations in chocolate products among the highest reported for all foods. One source of contamination of the finished products is tentatively attributed to atmospheric emissions of leaded gasoline, which is still being used in Nigeria.

While the origin of these toxins is unclear, Elaine Van Vliet, director of toxic chemical research at As You Sow, thinks the contaminates may be coming in contact with the chocolate somewhere in the manufacturing process.

The folks at As You Sow filed legal notices demanding candy companies add warning labels to their current packaging for high levels of cadmium and lead.

If you would like to see the As You Sow’s list of contaminated brands, click here. If you continue to scroll down, there is also a list of “No Warning Required” chocolates. While these may not be some of your favorites, at least if gives you a few options.

In the meantime, you may want to consider subbing Jordan almonds for chocolate bunnies this spring.

Live Well,

Natalie Moore
Managing editor, Living Well Daily


Sources

[1] How much lead is in your chocolate?

[2] Americans eat HOW MUCH chocolate?

[3] Lead poisoning

[4] Lead poisoning and health

[5] EXPOSURE TO CADMIUM: A MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN

[6] LEAD AND CADMIUM IN FOOD

Natalie Moore

Written By Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.

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