“Are chocolates sold in the Philippines safe from toxic cadmium and lead?”
The Philippine based EcoWaste Coalition raises this concern after As You Sow, a US consumer health watchdog, last week reported finding higher than normal levels of cadmium and lead in 35 of 50 chocolate products tested, including Easter chocolate bunnies and eggs.
“We ask this question not to create panic among chocolate-loving Filipinos but to encourage consumer safety groups to have products randomly purchased and tested for toxic metals and other contaminants,” said Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.
Project Protect seeks to safeguard the public from harmful chemicals, products and wastes.
“Vigilant compliance monitoring will surely promote company adherence to good manufacturing practices, contribute to food quality and safety and protect consumer health,” Dizon noted.
Furthermore, EcoWaste, quoting As You Sow; explained that “cadmium and lead may contaminate the chocolate product at many points through the ‘bean to bar’ process; these sources may depend on the cacao growing, fermenting, processing, manufacturing, shipping, and packaging practices.”
The Oakland, California based As You Sow, in a statement (http://www.asyousow.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/release_toxic_chocolate_easter_bunnies_eggs_and_more_20160322.pdf), said 35 of 50 chocolate products it tested, including chocolate bunnies and eggs, expose consumers to lead and cadmium above levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
This law, which is also known as Proposition 65, listed lead and cadmium as reproductive toxins. It also requires manufacturers to put a warning label if a product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm above the safe harbor level established by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
With the warning label, consumers can make an informed decision if they want to buy or use the product.
The test, which was conducted by independent laboratories, indicates that the chocolate products contain lead and/or cadmium, and they fail to provide the legally required warning to consumers.
As You Sow has filed legal notices against chocolate manufacturers, including Trader Joe’s, Hershey’s, Green and Black’s, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, Godiva, See’s Candies, Mars, Theo Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Ghirardelli, Earth Circle Organics, and more, for failure to warn of lead and/or cadmium in their chocolate products.
“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children,” said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant.
“As underscored by the Flint (Michigan) disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure,” said Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine.
“Young children and pregnant women especially should avoid exposure to lead.”
“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children,” explained Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President.
“Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products.”
Scientists have linked chronic cadmium exposure to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans. Children are more susceptible to especially susceptible to even from low doses over time. Animal studies associate cadmium exposure with decreased birth weight, neurobehavioral problems, and male reproductive harm.
Recent revelations of lead contamination in water in Flint raised awareness that lead is irrefutably linked to neurological impacts in children. Since 1992, As You Sow has led enforcement actions resulting in removal of lead from children’s jewelry and formaldehyde from portable classrooms.