Dark chocolate: A consumer from New York has filed a lawsuit against The Hershey Company, also known as Hershey’s, claiming that the company’s dark chocolate contained dangerous amounts of heavy metals like Lead and Cadmium. Christopher Lazazzaro filed a complaint that if Hershey’s had disclosed the amount of heavy metals utilized in its product, he would not have bought any of the company’s goods.
The lawsuit, as per reports, was brought after a consumer research firm published a study connecting high levels of lead and cadmium with popular chocolate brands like Hershey’s, Lindt, Godiva, Theo, and Trader Joe’s.
The maximum allowed exposure limit for lead (0.5 micrograms) and cadmium (4.1 mcg) in California was used by Consumer Reports’ scientists to measure the amount of heavy metals in 28 dark chocolate bars.
According to the statement of Tunde Akinleye, the food safety researcher who oversaw the tests, “There are risks for people of any age.”
According to the study, lead exposure on a regular basis might cause kidney damage, immune system suppression, hypertension, nervous system difficulties, and hypertension even to adults.
The report also suggested, “While most people don’t eat chocolate every day, 15 percent do, according to the market research firm Mintel. Even if you aren’t a frequent consumer of chocolate, lead and cadmium can still be a concern. It can be found in many other foods—such as sweet potatoes, spinach, and carrots—and small amounts from multiple sources can add up to dangerous levels. That’s why it’s important to limit exposure when you can.”
As per report, the Hershey’s Special Dark bar and Lily’s 70% bar were containing high amounts of lead, whereas Lily’s 85% bar was high in lead and cadmium both.
The information must have put you in deep thought and you might be recalling multiple videos of people suggesting that dark chocolate is good for health, then why all these chocolates contain this much heavy metals.
The reason for this is cacao, dark chocolates contain atleast 65-70% of cacao in their weight. But is cacao bad? Let us find out.
Evil side of cacao
The cacao bean, which has the two primary ingredients cocoa solids and cocoa butter, is the source of chocolate. Cacao or cocoa is the collective name for these. The cocoa solids in dark chocolate are largely responsible for its image as a relatively healthful ingredient.
Flavanols, an antioxidant related to better blood vessel function, diminished inflammation, and decreased cholesterol, are abundant in these.
Additionally, compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate provides more fibre, magnesium, and potassium while having a lower sugar content. Unfortunately, the heavy metals, particularly cadmium, can also be found in cocoa solids.
This makes weighing the advantages and disadvantages of dark chocolate challenging.
Some of the same problems can occur with products made from cocoa powder—which is pure form of cocoa solids— such as brownies, cakes, ice-cream etc.
Removing Cadmium and lead
Due to its higher cacao content, dark chocolate tends to contain more heavy metals than milk chocolates.
Lead and cadmium seem to enter cacao in distinct ways, which implies that each needs a separate kind of solution, further complicating the problem.
The report suggested that, Cadmium gets into the beans as the plant soaks more and more cadmium from the soil and it gets accumulated into the beans as plant grows. Heavy metals in the soil contaminate other plants too, such as vegetables and fruit plants.
But lead is apparently not taken up by the plant from the soil but researchers found the lead on the outer shell of the cacao or cocoa beans. Afterwards, lead levels decreased drastically when the beans were picked and removed from the pods but the lead levels spiked back again as the beans were laid for drying in the sun for elongated time.
The report suggested that the problem of lead seems to be coming from the environment in which the beans were harvested and dried. Apparently, the lead accumulated in the beans due to the lead filled dust which settled on the beans while they were in the sun.
So, for the problem of the lead contamination, it is being suggested that changes in harvesting and manufacturing process will mitigate the issue.
Whereas for Cadmium minimization the situation gets trickier where researchers suggest that a decent amount of R&D is required to genetically modify the seed which will help the plant in not taking up high levels of heavy metals such as Cadmium.
The REAL EVIL
The real evil in the chocolate industry is capitalism. Let me prove how.
The problem of both lead and cadmium is limited to the farmers’ level. As cadmium gets into the plant whereas lead gets into the beans while drying. But these companies arrive in the scene when the bean is already dried and they just buy the dried cocoa beans, pack them and ship the beans to their home turf where the processing and manufacturing is done—the real value addition is done here.
The world’s chocolate industry is valued at $113 billion as of 2021 and do you know how much of this value goes to the farmers and cocoa growing nations? A mere 6%. Cocoa bean which is the basic or we can say the indispensable ingredient of chocolate are bought at a very cheap rate from the countries of Ghana and Ivory Coast. Both of these countries account for the two thirds of world’s cocoa production.
Most of the farmers in these countries earn even less than $2 a day, in Ivory Coast their income is less than four times of this level. In Ghana they earn just $0.78 per day on an average.
So, when the researchers suggest that the plants should be genetically modified or the harvesting process must be cleaner—the farmers are not able to do the needful as they’re unable to pay even for their livelihoods.
The capitalist companies descend on these lands, harvest the seeds and then go back into their factories to process and sell lead and cadmium loaded chocolates to your children. These companies care less for their customers and even lesser for the farmers which punish themselves in the heat and sun so that a kid in the West can enjoy chocolates and cakes. So, from the next time you buy any chocolate from a company, just e-mail them a question, “Did you pay the farmers their due?”
Also Read: The Five Ways That The US Successfully Reasserted Its Hegemony Over Europe In 2022
One thought on “There’s Lead and Cadmium in your kid’s chocolate: The evil side of dark chocolate industry”
Very good analysis lots of other bakery also have cadmium such as bread in India bread is largely produced in cottage type of manufacturers where there is no check points