The Toxic Metals Hiding in Our Chocolate

By Mackenzie Quarles, age 11

A $5 million lawsuit has been filed against the Hershey Company following a report from Consumer Reports (CR) that revealed many brands of dark chocolate contain harmful heavy metals. 

Christopher Lazazzaro, a resident of Nassau County, N.Y., filed a lawsuit in December 2022 accusing Hershey of selling chocolate that contains lead and cadmium. Lazazzaro is calling Hershey’s advertising “false, deceptive, and misleading,” according to NPR. 

Scientists at CR released findings in mid-December 2022 which discovered that lead and cadmium were present in all 28 brands of dark chocolate that they tested. CR tested a range of brands such as Hershey’s, Dove, Ghirardelli and smaller brands like Alter Eco and Mast. Their experts reported that eating one ounce a day of 23 of these brands could result in serious health conditions. 

Lead and cadmium can also be found in other foods, like sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots. Long-term exposure to these toxic metals can create serious health concerns. Extended exposure may lead to kidney damage, hypertension and immune system suppression. In kids, lead can cause damage to their brain development and lower overall IQ.

The reports are especially concerning considering dark chocolate is often marketed as a healthier alternative to milk chocolate. Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper and other beneficial minerals. It also contains antioxidants, which have been shown to help improve heart health and other conditions.

Andrew Stolbach, a toxicologist from Johns Hopkins, told NPR that the level of heavy metal present in dark chocolate “isn’t something to be concerned about.” Being mindful about what we are consuming and maintaining a balanced diet is key.

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