Lead in chocolate, really? We take stock a few days before Christmas

While a study by the Avicenna association has just revealed the presence of nanoparticles in everyday products, some of which are potentially dangerous to health, in the United States we discover the presence of heavy metals in a food above all tips: dark chocolate. As the holidays approach, should we deprive ourselves of our chocolate confections?

A few days before Christmas Eve, it is a release that has the effect of a small bomb in the United States. The consumer organizations’ reference, Consumer Reports, reveals having found heavy metals in a sample of 28 bars of dark chocolate.

While this variety of cocoa enjoys a better nutritional image due to its richness in antioxidants and its lower sugar content compared to milk chocolate, analyzes have revealed the presence of lead and cadmium. These are the dose limits recommended by the state of California, which were used as a reference to assess whether a product contained too many heavy metals.

These results raise serious questions because long-term exposure to lead or cadmium, even in small amounts, can lead to brain development problems. Young children and pregnant women are among those at risk. But everyone is affected.

“For example, frequent exposure to lead in adults can lead to nervous system problems, high blood pressure, immune system suppression, kidney damage and reproductive problems,” points out Consumer Reports from its food safety researcher.

Why are there heavy metals in dark chocolate?

If only five tablets are considered safe, all the samples in the analysis have been found to have the two incriminating materials in their formulation. And there is a reason. As for cadmium, this metal, which is used to make TV screens or to metallize surfaces, is actually found naturally in the soil. Cacao plants even have the ability to absorb it, which has the effect of accumulating this metal in the beans.

As for lead, the metal is found on the husk of cocoa beans after harvest. Its presence is accentuated as the beans dry in the sun, in part because dust and dirt will increase the lead content, according to Consumer Report.

The established observation that there are solutions to avoid having these heavy metals in our square of chocolate. The cacao beans must not touch the ground or renew the cacao trees to use the fruit from younger specimens that have not yet had time to take on cadmium.

What are the risks to our health?

Should we review our chocolate consumption in light of these revelations? Yes, if you eat it every day. According to Consumer Report, this type of enjoyment should be limited becauseBlack gold is not the only food that contains cadmium. If there are any in cigarettes, consumers are also exposed to them with bread, cereals, potatoes or even shellfish, which are the most contaminated foods according to the Lyon cancer center (Léon Bérard). It is better to prefer dark chocolate bars with a lower cocoa content as a precaution. The cadmium level will increase with the cocoa percentage.

Since these analyzes are American, we have a right to wonder about the need to worry when we bought our chocolate in Europe or elsewhere. Note that the Consumer Report sample includes brands such as Lindt, which Europeans obviously know well. It remains to be seen whether the tested product corresponds to the same commercial recipe.cialized on the old continent. The analyzes also concerned Tony’s chocolates, which are available in concept stores or duty-free in Europe…

For Europeans, the topic is actually not that new. In France, the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) had seized ANSES, the health safety police, because of an excessive content of cadmium in seaweed, which is mainly used in Japanese cuisine. The latter then confirmed in 2020 that exceedances were very frequent.

Every year, the DGCCRF checks whether consumers are not too exposed to heavy metals by carrying out checks on various foods. When a sample does not comply with the legal doses, different decisions can be made, such as returning the said product to the country of origin, a further investigation to carry out further analysis or issuing a warning. In short, we can safely bite into our square of dark chocolate near the Christmas tree, in moderation!

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