Hi Chocolate Lovers!
After more than a year of chocolate panic and confusion about unsafe levels of lead and cadmium in chocolate, there is some good news.
For those who didn’t see it, I covered these disturbing findings in an October 2017 post and have been trying to get answers from chocolate companies since. Nestle, Mars—even Chocolove—responded defensively to my inquiries while trying to undermine the incriminating findings, “All our chocolate falls within FDA required limits, blah blah blah”. Trader Joe’s played the good intentions card: “we will not offer any products we feel are unsafe, ever, and we have no reason to believe our chocolate products are not absolutely safe to enjoy”. Yada yada.
Happily, the non-profit organization that broke the story, As you Sow, refused to let the story disappear and relentlessly pursued its ongoing investigation. They are determined to educate the public and to make chocolate bars safer.
Their hard work paid off, as you will see from their news release below, hot off the press.
It appears that the source(s) of heavy metal contamination are still being explored so no definitive results are available yet. But all the major chocolate companies are now on board trying to find a solution. They didn’t choose to be part of the solution, but their hands were forced legally by As You Sow. These companies who collectively control most of the world’s chocolate production have pledged their assistance in the search for lead and cadmium contamination. I’m sure they put up a fight to contest the results and maybe did their own testing, but finally acknowledged that there was a problem. This is a major collaborative effort and one with enormous leverage because of the money and influence behind it. And there’s potential for meaningful change. Even better, these companies have agreed to label chocolate bars that are currently on the market and dangerous to eat.
Feel free to post any questions and I’ll try to find the answers. You might also go directly to the source and report back to GFF readers.
Good job, As You Sow!!!
HUGE NEWS! After years of effort by As You Sow, the largest chocolate companies in the world have finally agreed to take action to reduce or eliminate the lead and cadmium in their chocolate products.
The makers of Mars bars, Hershey’s, Guittard, Cadbury, Lindt, and Nestle chocolates — plus the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers Callebaut and Blommer, and chocolate suppliers like Cargill — have signed a settlement with As You Sow, agreeing to:
- -investigate the sources of lead and cadmium in chocolate,
- -reduce the lead and cadmium levels where feasible, and
- -warn consumers where lead and cadmium levels cannot be adequately lowered.
- -This is a court-approved settlement, so it has teeth.*
This is a big step for consumer health. No company includes heavy metals in chocolate on purpose, but when lead and cadmium show up in chocolate bars, manufacturers owe it to all of us to DO something about it.
You can do something about it, too. We’ve tested over a hundred chocolate bars for lead and cadmium — check the list to see if your favorite chocolates are on it — we just updated the list with new test results yesterday. If there’s a red “Warning Required” label, that chocolate bar has enough lead and/or cadmium to require a State of California warning label. Science shows that there is NO safe level of lead for infants and children — check out the chocolate FAQs for more details.
We hope you’ll celebrate today’s victory with us. You’re making a difference — with your buying choices, with your voice, and with your support — keep it up, and before you know it, chocolate WILL be safe to eat.
President & Chief Counsel
* This settlement is the result of nearly five years of legal work by As You Sow to cause chocolate companies to reduce the lead and cadmium in their products. California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, Proposition 65, requires that consumers receive a warning when chemicals listed as reproductive toxins — such as lead and cadmium — are present in products at levels above the State’s “maximum allowable dose level.” Yesterday – on Valentine’s Day — a California Superior Court judge approved the settlement negotiated by As You Sow and leaders of the chocolate industry requiring a joint study to investigate and report on the main sources of lead and cadmium in chocolate products. The study will include findings and recommendations on feasible measures to meaningfully reduce levels of lead and cadmium found in chocolate products and will set thresholds for determining when lead and/or cadmium Prop 65 warnings will be required for chocolate products.
“Our goal has always been to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid or reduce lead and cadmium in their chocolate products,” Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, said. “This settlement helps achieves that goal and provides for interim warning levels as we jointly work on the study.”
P.S. Interim warning levels are a first step. You can help make sure the heat stays on chocolate makers to get the lead out with your donation. Click here to help test more chocolate bars.
Our testing provides consumers with information about what products require a warning under California’s Prop 65. Consumer knowledge and communication with the chocolate industry keeps the pressure on to make chocolate cleaner and safer.
Care to submit a design direction? I’d love to see more. And I’ll post the actual label when it arrives on the market!