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Chocolate Report Released regarding Lead and Cadmium

National Law Review:

  • “As You Sow and the National Confectioners Association released a report on August 18, 2022 that determines the predominant sources of lead and cadmium in chocolate products and how best to reduce these levels.  A multi-disciplinary panel of four experts have been investigating the matter for three years.  The report is part of the 2018 settlement agreement reached in As You Sow v. Trader Joe’s, in which the plaintiff alleged that numerous chocolate makers failed to warn the public about levels of lead and cadmium in their products, therefore violating California’s Proposition 65.
  • The report concludes that cadmium can be found in cacao and chocolate due to its presence in tropical soils where it is harvested.  Cadmium contaminates the roots of the plant, where it is then deposited into the nibs of the cacao beans.  The experts concluded a short term solution would be to mix high and low-cadmium cacao beans, whereas long-term reductions could be achieved by changing soil compositions or cacao genetics.
  • The investigation found that lead contaminates the outer shells of the cacao beans, rather than through the roots.  The sticky coating of the outer shells allows lead particles from soil, dust, and power plant air pollution to stick to the cacao beans as they are dried and fermented in open air.  The investigation revealed that, where feasible, minimizing soil contact and optimizing contaminant removal during the cleaning, roasting, and shell removal stages should help reduce lead contamination…”

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