A while back I wrote about how I’d tried Dagoba chocolate. It really is a great organic chocolate company. Unfortunately, some batches of their chocolate were found to have lead levels exceeding FDA guidelines.
From the Dagoba site:
This is an isolated situation – limited only to specific lots of Eclipse 87%, Los Rios 68% and Prima Materia 100%. We have thoroughly tested the cocoa used in all of our other products, and it is safe. We have carefully reviewed our manufacturing practices and know that they do not contribute to lead levels. Thus, we can guarantee that all other Dagoba products are within accepted FDA guidelines.
Lead in chocolate has always been a problem and one that has been receiving more attention of late. Some consumer groups want warning labels on processed chocolate products. In October 2005 The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences published a study that reveals worrisome details about the levels of lead in chocolate:
Specific focus on the source of lead in cocoa, the principal material used to make chocolate, began during the late 1970s. Despite subsequent marked reduction in the release of lead into the environment, due primarily to removal of lead from gasoline (Nriagu 1990), recent market-basket surveys still indicate continued lead contamination in some foods, notably manufactured cocoa and chocolate products. For example, in the 2000 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Total Diet Survey (TDS), the average lead content for milk chocolate candy bars (27 ng/g) was the fourth highest reported for all food items (FDA 2000).
What does this all mean? Well, we can limit our chocolate consumption to raw cacao, which apparently does not have the lead levels that processed chocolate does. Or, we could eat dark chocolate in moderation to gain the health benefits of chocolate without getting too much lead. So if you’re eating five bars of processed chocolate per day, maybe you should cut down. One or two ounces? That’s probably safe, especially if it’s from a company like Dagoba or other organic, ethical companies that regularly test their products for lead and are open about any problems when they do arise.