Home Report: Dark chocolate bars may not be as healthy for you as you’d thought

Report: Dark chocolate bars may not be as healthy for you as you’d thought

Crystal Graham
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Dark chocolate may not be as good for you as you thought, at least according to research from Consumer Reports released today.

In an article by Kevin Loria, it was reported that CR research found that some dark chocolate bars contain cadmium and lead – two heavy metals linked to health issues for children and adults.

Scientists with CR recently measured the amount of heavy metal in 28 dark chocolate bars – and detected cadmium and lead in all of them, according to the article.

CR tested a number of brands including Dove, Ghirardelli, Lindt, Godiva and Trader Joe’s, among others.

For 23 of the 28 tested, eating just one ounce a day would put an adult over the level that public health authorities say may be harmful for one metal. Five of the bars were above the levels for cadmium and lead.

Tunde Akinleye, the CR food safety researcher leading the project said the greatest danger is for pregnant people and young children because the metals may cause developmental problems, affect brain development and lead to a lower IQ.

Lead and cadmium can be found in other food such as sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots.

Akinleye said five of the dark chocolate bars in the test had relatively low amounts of lead and cadmium.

“That shows it’s possible for companies to make products with lower amounts of heavy metals- and for consumers to find safer products that they enjoy,” he said.

Chocolate test results

Safer choices

  • Mast Organic Dark Chocolate
  • Taza Chocolate Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight
  • Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate

High in both lead and cadmium

  • Theo Organic Pure Dark
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate
  • Theo Organic Pure Dark Chocolate
  • Lily’s Extremely Dark Chocolate
  • Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate

View other chocolate high in lead or cadmium in the report found here.

According to the report, dark chocolate tends to be higher in heavy metals than milk chocolate, probably because of its higher cacao content.

Researchers found that cacao plants take up cadmium from the soil but lead seems to get into cacao after the beans are harvested.

Michael J. DiBartolomeis, PhD, a toxicologist and former official at the California Department of Public Health who has researched heavy metals in chocolate, says that while he cautions pregnant people and children from eating dark chocolate, he doesn’t tell most people to give it up, just to know the risks and not overdo it.


The National Confectioners Association released a statement in response to the Consumer Reports research.

“Chocolate and cocoa are safe to eat and can be enjoyed as treats as they have been for centuries. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment standards cited in the Consumer Reports study are not food safety standards. An expert investigation conducted through our prior California Proposition 65 settlement concluded that cadmium and lead are present in cocoa and chocolate due to soil and that bean cleaning during processing cocoa beans reduces lead in chocolate products. The products cited in this study are in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements, and the levels provided to us by Consumer Reports testing are well under the limits established by our settlement. Food safety and product quality remain our highest priorities and we remain dedicated to being transparent and socially responsible.”

The full report can be found here: https://candyusa.com/news/research-reveals-ways-lead-and-cadmium-in-chocolate-may-be-reduced/

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.