17 Chocolate Brands Whose Products Contain Heavy Metals Lead and Cadmium

by Shelby

The debate surrounding chocolate has raged on for years – is it a downfall of your diet, with its sugar content helping to pack on the pounds, or does it live up to the hype of the many health benefits, promoting proper heart health, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure? A recent report from As You Sow, a well-known consumer health watchdog raises another red flag to consider when you choosing your next sweet treat.

The group conducted independent laboratory testing, assessing the ingredients in 70 different chocolate products and the results were surprising! Comparing the levels of both lead and cadmium in each of the products to the safe harbor threshold stated in California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65), they found that 45 of the 70 chocolate products were deemed to be unsafe! That’s right, 45 of the 70 products contained a high enough level of lead and/or cadmium to be considered toxic!

Since completing the test the group has filed legal notices against the manufacturers of the toxic products, including Trader Joes, Hershey’s, Theo Chocolate, Godiva, Mondelez, Earth Circle, Kroger, Whole Foods, Ghiradelli, See’s Candies, Equal Exchange and Lindt!

Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine explained, “As underscored by the Flint disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure. Young children and pregnant women especially should avoid exposure to lead.”

Lead exposure is a serious risk, with no level being considered safe for children! Exposure has been associated with a number of neurological impairments including learning disabilities, seizures, and a lower IQ level. Exposure to cadmium has been found to cause damage to the liver, kidney, and bones, as well as having an impact on neurobehavioral development. Both lead and cadmium have been classified as reproductive toxins.

“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children. Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products,” explained Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow.

The study listed the following chocolate brands as testing high for lead and/or cadmium content:


  • Bissinger’s All Natural 60% Dark Chocolate Whole Almonds (Lead)

Earth Circle Foods dba River Canyon Retreat Inc.

  • Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Cold Pressed (Cadmium)

 Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

  • Ghiradelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Chocolate Bar (Cadmium)
  • Ghiradelli Chocolate Premium Baking Bar 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate (Lead & Cadmium)


  • Godiva Chocolatier 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Sea Salt (Lead)
  • Godiva Chocolatier 85% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate (Lead & Cadmium)
  • Godiva Chocolatier 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate (Lead & Cadmium)

The Hershey Company

  • Scharffen Berger Semisweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) (Cadmium)
  • Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate (82% cacao) (Cadmium)


  • Organic New Moon Rich Dark Chocolate (74% cacao) (Lead & Cadmium)

Lake Champlain Chocolates

  • Lake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate (57% cocoa) (Lead & Cadmium)

Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc.

  • Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Excellence Extra Dark (Lead & Cadmium)

Mars, Incorporated

  • Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Bar (Cadmium)

Mondelez International, Inc.

  • Green & Black’s Organic 85% Cacao Bar (Lead & Cadmium)

Moonstruck Chocolate Co. 

  • Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Chile Variado (68% cacao) (Lead)

See’s Candies, Inc. 

  • See’s Candies Premium Extra Dark Chocolate (62% cacao) (Cadmium)

 The Kroger Co. 

  • Private Selection 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Swiss Bar(Lead & Cadmium)

Theo Chocolate Theo 

  • Organic Fair Trade Pure 85% Dark Chocolate (Cadmium)

Trader Joe’s Company

  • Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate (Lead)
  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans 70% cacao (Lead)
  • Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate (Lead)
  • Trader Joe’s Pound Plus, 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate(Lead)
  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 73% Cacao Super Dark (Lead & Cadmium)
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar (85% cacao) (Lead & Cadmium)

Vosges, Ltd. Wild 

  • Ophelia All Natural New Orleans Chili – Dark Chocolate Bar (70% cacao) (Lead)

Whole Foods Market, Inc. 

  • 365 Everyday Value Organic Dark Chocolate (56% Cacao) (Lead & Cadmium)


To see a full list of the brands that passed, check here!

If you have any questions regarding the testing, contact:

Kristin Costa, (510)735-8164

[email protected]

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