Report: Heavy Metals Found in Dozens of Dark Chocolate Brands

Popular brands of dark chocolate, including Hershey's and Lindt, were discovered to have high levels of lead and cadmium.

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By Madeline Garfinkle

Chicago Tribune | Getty Images

Turns out there's an unassuming dark side to dark chocolate.

Consumer Reports found that nearly two dozen brands of dark chocolate contained dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium — two heavy metals that have been linked to various health problems.

The researchers measured the lead and cadmium levels in 28 dark chocolate brands — from time-honored classics like Hershey's to lesser-known brands like Alter Eco. The findings discovered that 23 of the bars were above California's maximum allowable dose level (MADL) for lead (0.5 mcg) and cadmium (4.1 mcg). Long-term exposure to the metals could pose serious health concerns like impaired brain development and lower IQs in children, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Related: 'Max' Brenner Was Pushed Out of His Own Company, Financially Destroyed, and Banned From Making Chocolate For Five Years. But He Learned: 'Hell Has Benefits.'

"The danger is greatest for pregnant people and young children because the metals can cause developmental problems, affect brain development, and lead to lower IQ," said Tunde Akinleye, Consumer Reports' food safety researcher, Tunde Akinleye, in the report. However, Akinleye also mentions the risks are high for all ages.

Among the most toxic of the bars was Trader Joe's, which had high levels of both lead and cadmium. Hershey's was also high in lead, but low in cadmium. Others with high levels of lead, cadmium, or both were Tony's, Dove, Lindt, Alter Eco, and Theo.

However, for those looking to still enjoy the dark sweet, five of the 28 brands were found to be "safer" options: Mast, Taza Chocolate, Ghirardelli (86% cacao), Ghirardelli (72% cacao), and Valrhona.

"That shows it's possible for companies to make products with lower amounts of heavy metals—and for consumers to find safer products that they enjoy," Akinleye says in the report.

Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

Editorial Assistant

Madeline Garfinkle is an Editorial Assistant at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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