Researchers have found that common chocolate, including chocolate bunnies and eggs, contain levels of toxic metals like lead and cadmium that are considered to be dangerous for consumption.

As You Sow, a California-based consumer advocacy group tested 50 chocolate products from which 35 of them exposed consumers to lead and cadmium above levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, according to a press release made by the organization.

Nutritionists and researchers have previously suggested that eating chocolate has a great impact on cardiovascular health. Photo credit: Sos Curioso

Based on the results obtained from the independent laboratories that tested the samples, the organization has filed notices with the 18 manufacturers, which includes Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Green and Black’s, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, among others, for failing to provide the legally required warning to consumers.

The group will not disclose the exact amount of metals found in the products, in hopes of working directly with the manufacturers to help target the metal’s sources, as reported by CNN

“Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow.

Manufacturers’ response

Several chocolate maker companies came forward after the accusation made by As You Sow. Most of them concluded that their products were safe and that the levels of toxic metals are due to natural acquisitions from the cacao sources.

Chocolove declared that the types and amounts of elements in a food product can come from the soil and the natural growing of the plant or from food processing. They added that there is a significant distinction between natural occurring components of the soil and the plant being food, versus contamination added by incorrect food contact surfaces.

In addition, Earth Circle Foods responded saying they are involved in discussions with As You Sow. They claimed to dispute their accusations. The company now have a testing program in place even though they believe that their product is safe.

Hershey Company also made a statement commenting that people have been eating cocoa and chocolate safely for centuries. They also assured that their products were safe and that their industry adheres to all government regulations.

No safe level for children

Protecting children from lead exposure is qualified as important to a lifelong good health by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization said there is no safe blood lead level in children identified and that even low levels can cause negative effects on IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement. The CDC also added that the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected with any treatment available so far.

Cadmium in the other hand may also be damaging to its consumers’ health. The metal can cause damage to the kidney, liver and bones while also impairing neurobehavioral development, according to As You Sow.

Source: CNN