The Captain's Response to Lead and Cadmium Contaminated Chocolate

The Captain's Response to Lead and Cadmium Contaminated Chocolate

Heavy metals in chocolate?  Should I be concerned?

I wanted to address the current round of speculation about heavy metals in chocolate due to the lawsuits filed against some of the large chocolate manufactures.  Can chocolate contain high levels of lead and cadmium?  The answer is yes

Some articles on the web claim that ALL chocolate has high levels of lead. That is simply not true.  Some chocolates do and some don’t. How can you know what is safe to eat? Well, without actually testing it or asking for the test results from the company, you don’t know. Many companies do provide that information. So, you can read the labels or check their website to see. However, I want to specifically address this in relation to our chocolate.  

When I first read about this problem, I was concerned enough to do some research. Here are a few excerpts from an article on the National Library of Medicine (Here is the link if you want to read the whole thing

Manufactured cocoa products frequently have higher lead concentrations than other foods, even though cocoa beans, the main ingredient, have some of the lowest reported lead levels for any natural food.
Lead contamination of candies has been recognized as a problem since 1820, when a British study found the poison widespread in London confectionary products.
In the current study, the researchers studied the lead isotopic compositions of cocoa beans and shells from six farms in Nigeria’s top three producing states to determine if soil or farm sources might be the cause of lead contamination.
The researchers conclude that while cocoa bean shells may be one source of lead, most contamination occurs during shipping or processing of the beans and in manufacturing.

Several websites that I found stated that the leaded gasoline used to run the farming equipment and also the equipment itself is often the source of the contamination. 

After reading that my concerns were alleviated. Our farmers handpick all of the cacao pods we receive. There are no pieces of large equipment used that would be producing leaded gasoline fumes near the trees or even on the farms at all. 

We receive the beans the day they are picked from the trees. We transport them in closed containers from the farms to our processing plant in Costa Rica. They are fermented in specially made wooden boxes then transferred to our drying shed, from there they go into the roaster which is made from all stainless steel. They get hewn and winnowed via our champion juicer. Our winnowing machine is made from PVC (same thing most water pipes are made out of.) 

From that point they are stored in airtight containers. Mostly so that they do not gain humidity. Humidity is the enemy of chocolate. Then they are shipped via air freight to the US. Once here we either package them for you to purchase as Nibs (all done by hand with a scoop) or they are ground into chocolate. We use stone grinders. That means they are granite and stainless steel. After grinding the chocolate is once again stored in airtight containers until it gets tempered, molded, and packaged. 

So, knowing where our chocolate comes from and how it is handled at every step of the process gave me a great piece of mind. I liken the situation to vegetables you grow yourself vs the ones you buy from big name producers.  Which veggies do you want to eat? Same with our chocolate. 

Is there still some risk that our chocolate might have high levels too?  Yes, of course there is always a chance.  You need to make your own decisions about this. But don’t let the media hype scare you off.  We do our very best to maintain the highest standards possible to bring you chocolate you can eat with confidence and best of all enjoyment.

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