Toxic Lead and Cadmium Found in Popular Chocolates


We found toxic metals like lead and cadmium in popular chocolate products.

If you have a sweet tooth, you may have read studies talking about the health benefits associated with eating moderate amounts of chocolate. But our research has found a health risk in popular chocolate products that’s been flying under the radar – some contain toxic metals like lead and cadmium in amounts that exceed California’s safe harbor levels.

After testing at an independent laboratory, commissioned by As You Sow, found toxic heavy metals in popular chocolate products, we filed legal notices with 16 manufacturers, including Hershey’s and Ghirardelli. The notices alleged the companies are failing to notify consumers that the products contain cadmium and lead in levels exceeding the safe harbor threshold of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. We tested 42 chocolate products and uncovered lead and/or cadmium above the threshold levels in 26 of the products. See the list of chocolate products tested at

Lead and cadmium are heavy metals that can be harmful to health. Lead consumption can cause a variety of neurological impairments, like learning disabilities, seizures, and a lowered IQ. Children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure because their brains are in critical growth and development stages. Cadmium can cause damage to the kidney, liver, and bones, while also impairing neurobehavioral development.

The negative brand reputation that comes from failing to inform the public about these toxic metals creates risk for investors. “Nobody expects heavy metals in their chocolate,” said Andrew Behar, As You Sow CEO. “We hope these companies will take action to protect consumers and to reduce the company’s own risk.” As You Sow continues to work with the companies to either reduce or eliminate the heavy metals in their products, or provide the warnings required by law.