Bottom Line: Detecting metals in your chocolate

Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 7:26 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Halloween comes and goes, the spoils of your kids’ trick-or-treating might leave you inundated with more chocolate than you’ll know what to do with.

Before you allow your kids to dive into all their chocolate booty, Consumer Reports has some advice for all the ghouls out there.

Last year Consumer Reports’ scientific food testing made headlines: Most of the samples of 28 dark chocolate bars it tested contained concerning levels of cadmium or lead—both toxic heavy metals.

Now CR is at it again, expanding its tests to 48 additional products in seven categories: dark chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, hot chocolate mixes, and brownie and cake mixes.

As expected, dark chocolates tended to have higher levels of heavy metals than milk chocolate. Every product we tested had detectable amounts of lead and cadmium.

There are no federal limits for the amount of lead and cadmium most foods can contain, but one state does set its own limits on certain foods.

CR’s scientists used California’s standard levels when measuring heavy metal content in chocolate to make our own assessments for consumers.

Of the seven dark chocolate bars tested, five were above CR’s levels for lead, cadmium, or both. Evolved Signature Dark 72% Cacao Chocolate Bar was high in both heavy metals.

Evolved Chocolate told CR that it regularly tests raw materials and finished goods to ensure compliance and, ultimately, consumer safety.

None of the milk chocolate bars tested were over CR’s limit for either heavy metal.

Two chocolate chips, two cocoa powders, one brownie mix, and two cake mixes came back with lead levels over CR’s limit.

As for hot chocolate mixes, four of the six products tested exceeded CR’s lead limit.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to quit chocolate cold turkey. But as with anything in life, moderation is key—consume chocolate as an occasional treat.

Consumer Reports asked the Food and Drug Administration whether it has plans to set limits for lead and cadmium in chocolate.

The agency did not respond.

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