Lead & Cadmium Found in Chocolate – Is it in Your Favorite Brand?

According to the findings by the consumer health watchdog As You Sow, which tested 50 chocolate products, including chocolate eggs and bunnies, 35 of them contain lead and cadmium above levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

The tests were done at independent laboratories, and researchers found that the products which contained lead and cadmium did not even provide the legally required warning to consumers.

Therefore, due to the failure to warn about this, As You Sow filed legal notices against the manufacturers of the chocolates, including Mars, Lindt, Trader Joe’s, Theo Chocolate, Hershey’s, Whole Foods, Green and Black’s, Ghirardelli, Kroger, Godiva, Equal Exchange, Earth Circle Organics, See’s Candies, and many more.

According to Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant:

“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children. “

Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine added:

“As underscored by the Flint disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure. Young children and pregnant women especially should avoid exposure to lead.”

Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President maintains that:

“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children. Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products.”

Experts relate chronic exposure to cadmium to liver, bone, and kidney damage. Moreover, children are more prone to these negative effects even from low doses over time.

Animal studies have found a link between cadmium exposure and male reproductive system damage, decreased birth weight, and neurobehavioral problems.

Furthermore, the revelations of lead contamination in water in Flint, Michigan, emphasized the negative influence of lead and its relation to neurological problems in children.

For over 25 years, As You Sow has led enforcement actions which aim at the removal of lead from children’s jewelry and formaldehyde from portable classrooms.

These are some of the most popular brands involved in the research:


  • Bissinger’s All Natural 60% Dark Chocolate Whole Almonds Lead

Earth Circle Foods dba River Canyon Retreat Inc.

  • Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Cold Pressed Cadmium

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

  • Ghiradelli Chocolate Premium Baking Bar 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
  • Ghiradelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate Bar Cadmium


  • Godiva Chocolatier 85% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
  • Godiva Chocolatier 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Lead & Cadmium
  • Godiva Chocolatier 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Lead

The Hershey Company

  • Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (82% cacao) Cadmium
  • Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) Cadmium


  • Organic New Moon Rich Dark Chocolate (74% cacao) Lead & Cadmium

Lake Champlain Chocolates

  • Lake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate (57% cocoa) Lead & Cadmium

Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc.

  • Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Excellence Extra Dark Lead & Cadmium

Mars, Incorporated

  • Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Bar Cadmium

Mondelez International, Inc.

  • Green & Black’s Organic 85% Cacao Bar Lead & Cadmium

Moonstruck Chocolate Co. 

  • Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Chile Variado (68% cacao) Lead

See’s Candies, Inc. 

  • See’s Candies Premium Extra Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) Cadmium

The Kroger Co. 

  • Private Selection 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Swiss BarLead & Cadmium

Theo Chocolate Theo 

  • Organic Fair Trade Pure 85% Dark Chocolate Cadmium

Trader Joe’s Company

  • Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Lead
  • Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Lead
  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 73% Cacao Super Dark Lead & Cadmium
  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee With Walnuts and Pecans 70% cacao Lead
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar (85% cacao) Lead & Cadmium
  • Trader Joe’s Pound Plus, 72% Cacao Dark ChocolateLead

Vosges, Ltd. Wild 

  • Ophelia All Natural New Orleans Chili – Dark Chocolate Bar (70% cacao) Lead

Whole Foods Market, Inc. 

  • 365 Everyday Value Organic Dark Chocolate (56% Cacao) Lead & Cadmium

Here You Can See the Full List, including the brands that passed

Sources and References: