While we were all munching on chocolate eggs and bunnies this past weekend, a study from non-profit group As You Sow was released, claiming that high levels of lead and cadmium were found in dozens of popular chocolate brands including Hershey, Godiva, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Mars, and Trader Joe’s. The watchdog group has filed legal notices against 18 of the offending brands for failing to provide proper lead exposure warnings to consumers.
According to the scientific test results, 35 of the 50 chocolate candies studied tested positive for high levels of lead or cadmium with some brands containing nine times the amount of lead deemed safe by the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
Lead poisoning is a crucial health issue, as too much exposure through consumption or respiration could lead to mental health or learning disability issues. Exposure to both metals can lead to kidney and liver damage, according to Medical Daily.
"Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children," As You Sow President Danielle Fugere said in a statement. "Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products."
Unsurprisingly, the confectionary companies are vigorously defending their products. Hershey maintains that their products meet all USDA and FDA safety requirements and restrictions.
"People have been eating cocoa and chocolate for centuries with no evidence of a single incident of concern regarding these naturally occurring minerals," a Hershey spokesperson told The Washington Post.
The Daily Meal has contacted each of the candy companies named in the study and will update this story with responses.