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Cadmium in Chocolate

A recent article has raised several questions from our customers about chocolate contaminated with cadmium and lead. 

Cadmium and lead are heavy metals and both are naturally occurring elements in nature, found in the earth's crust. As such, all our food will have some level of cadmium/lead. It is not unique to chocolate. 

Three factors influence the cadmium and lead levels in our food:

  1. The natural distribution of these elements in the soil, areas with high volcanic activity has more heavy metals
  2. Human activity in the area of agriculture, for example, mining or the use of fertilizers
  3. Processing of food using cadmium and lead-containing equipment

In 2019, FDA scientists published an article showing that children are most exposed to these heavy metals in food like spinach, lettuce, sunflower seeds, potato chips, and wheat cereal. *

The food groups that contributed most to cadmium intake were cereals and bread (34%), leafy vegetables (20%), potatoes (11%), legumes and nuts (7%), and stem/root vegetables (6%). **

Chocolate is not under the top 20 foods contributing to the daily intake of cadmium. The sweets category contributes 0.02mcg per day per person. (1mcg = one millionth of a gram).

Avoiding chocolate or seeking low-cadmium chocolate won't necessarily reduce the exposure risk alone. One will need to consider the sources of all foods consumed. 

Many countries have published acceptable levels of Cadmium and Lead in foods. All to reduce the concentration of these heavy metals in our food. 

The acceptable or maximum allowed levels of cadmium are dependent on the type of chocolate. The following limits apply in the EU ***:

  1. Chocolate with less than 30% cocoa solids is not allowed to have more than 0.1mg/kg
  2. Chocolate between 30% and 50% cocoa solids is not allowed to have more than 0.3mg/kg
  3. Chocolate with more than 50% cocoa solids is not allowed to have more than 0.8mg/kg
  4. Cocoa Powder is not allowed levels of more than 0.6mg/kg

For our products, we only import organic cocoa powder that has low cadmium levels, containing no more than 0.48mg/kg.

Our cacao beans contains less than 0.3mg/kg. That means our 100% Dark chocolate is already well below the maximum limit, while our 71% Dark Chocolate only has 30% of the maximum allowed levels. 

Should you want more information or find out more about our products and sustainably/organically farmed cacao, please do not hesitate to drop us a mail at: info@cocoafair.com

Below are three articles about Cadmium and Lead in food that we referenced here. There are a wealth of reuptable research articles freely available on the internet.

Sources and some more reading:

* https://blogs.edf.org/health/2020/04/07/best-practices-for-reducing-cadmium-in-food-new-review-from-fda-scientists/

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356330/

*** https://food.ec.europa.eu/safety/chemical-safety/contaminants/catalogue/cadmium_en

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