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Chocolate Contains Higher Lead and Cadmium Levels, Hershey's Makers Under Radar

Consumer Reports, a non-profit consumer organization in the United States, has identified a troubling presence of lead and cadmium in one-third of the chocolate products it recently examined.

Shivangi Rai
Only milk chocolate bars, which have lower cocoa solids, were free from elevated metal content. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)
Only milk chocolate bars, which have lower cocoa solids, were free from elevated metal content. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)

Consumer Reports, a US-based non-profit consumer organization, has raised concerns about the presence of high levels of lead and cadmium in a significant portion of chocolate products tested in a recent study.

Their investigation involved 48 chocolate products across seven categories, including dark chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and various mixes for brownies, chocolate cake, and hot chocolate, sourced from different manufacturers.

Alarmingly, 16 of these products were found to contain potentially harmful amounts of lead, cadmium, or both, as stated in their report.

Some of the products identified with excessive levels of these heavy metals included dark chocolate bars and hot chocolate mixes from Walmart, cocoa powder from Hershey's and Droste, semi-sweet chocolate chips from Target, and hot chocolate mixes from Trader Joe's, Nestle, and Starbucks.

Notably, only milk chocolate bars, which have lower cocoa solids, were free from elevated metal content.

The impact of heavy metals on health is a matter of serious concern. Prolonged exposure to lead and cadmium can result in adverse effects on the nervous system, immune system, and kidney function, with pregnant women and young children being at higher risk, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Consumer Reports had previously reported in December of the previous year that 23 out of 28 dark chocolate bars they tested contained excessive levels of lead or cadmium, including Hershey's products sold under their own brand.

Given Hershey's status as a prominent and widely recognized brand, the consumer group called for a commitment from the company to make its chocolate safer.

Hershey, as the largest chocolate manufacturer globally, has expressed its intent to reduce heavy metal levels in its chocolate products. Hershey's CFO, Steve Voskuil, mentioned that these metals are naturally occurring elements in the soil and can find their way into chocolate products. While they aim to minimize these levels, the complete eradication of heavy metals is a challenging task.

It's important to note that chocolate and cocoa, with their rich history as indulgent treats, can still be enjoyed safely. However, the findings from Consumer Reports underscore the necessity for continued monitoring and improvements within the chocolate industry to ensure consumer safety and well-being.

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