With the Easter holiday coming to a close, you might be wondering what all those chocolate bunnies are doing to your health. Forget about the refined sugar, though: According to the California-based advocacy group As You Sow, many mass-market chocolates contain up to seven times over the California limit of cadmium and nine times over the recommended daily intake of lead, according to CNN.
As You Sow conducted a survey analyzing 50 different chocolates, finding that 35 contained traces of lead and cadmium, and many exceeded the California state limits. The brands tested include Hershey’s, Trader Joe’s, Godiva, Ghirardelli, and Lindt. As You Sow has filed notices with 18 of the companies for “failing to provide the legally required warning to consumers that the products contain cadmium or lead, or both.”
Being aware of the amount of cadmium and lead you are consuming is important because the two are considered reproductive toxins (meaning they can have negative effects on the reproductive system). As You Sow president Danielle Fugere explains in a statement, “[L]ead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children. Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products.”
Eleanne Van Vliet, a consultant on testing for As You Sow, explains to CNN how lead might end up in chocolate: “[I]t depends on the growing, processing, manufacturing, shipping. So there are a few possible sources, from our research. We would really like to have the chocolate industry come together and determine the sources.”
Even if some of the chocolates don’t comply with California’s limits, they may still fall under the less strict FDA guidelines. California limits adults and children to no more than 5 micrograms a day of lead exposure; the FDA guidelines limit children to 6 micrograms of lead a day.