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The dark side of dark chocolate: Toxic metals are found in EVERY bar tested by researchers in new report - including Hershey's, Lindt and Tony's Chocolonely

The above graphic shows the 28 chocolate bars tested by New York-based nonprofit Consumer Reports. All were found to contain lead and cadmium. Consumer Reports compared levels of the heavy metal in about an ounce of the chocolates to the recommended daily exposure levels from the Californian Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. These are not set specifically for food products, but overall
The above graphic shows the 28 chocolate bars tested 


They are often billed as the healthy alternative.

But dark chocolate bars contain toxic metals linked to a host of health problems, a report suggests.

Tests on 28 bars made by popular brands, including Hershey's, Lindt and Tony's Chocolonely, revealed all were positive for lead and cadmium.

The heavy metals have been linked to lung issues, memory problems, cancer and even early death. But experts say you would have to eat more than an entire sharing-sized chocolate bar per day to notice any effect.

Cadmium is a natural element found in soil that is sometimes absorbed by the roots of the plant and ends up in cocoa beans. Lead contaminates the beans though the environment, possibly when it is blown by wind in the surrounding areas as the beans dry in the open.

Lead is well-known to be dangerous to humans, causing memory loss, abdominal pain and low mood in adults after long-term exposure.

For children, the heavy metal can damage their brains and central nervous systems in high concentrations leading to learning and behavior problems.

On the other hand, even low levels of exposure to cadmium have been linked to cancer in the kidneys and fragile bones.

There is no national limit on lead and cadmium in chocolate bars set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Testing by the Consumer Reports watchdog was carried out on one ounce of 28 different dark chocolate bars.

To determine whether the products contained dangerous levels, the nonprofit measured them against standards set by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

The standards — which are set for general exposure and not food safety — say people should not be exposed to more than 0.5micrograms (mcg) of lead and 4.1mcg of cadmium per day.

But 23 of the bars tested (82 percent) contained lead levels up to two-and-a-half times above this and cadmium levels up to three times higher.

Five bars had more lead and cadmium than the recommended limits: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's 85 percent cacao, Green and Black's Organic dark chocolate 70 percent cacao, Lily's extremely dark chocolate 85 percent cocoa and two bars made by Theo's.