EcoWaste Coalition Proposes Random Product Tests amid US Report on Cadmium and Lead Chocolates

chocolates sold locally safe from toxic cadmium and lead?
The EcoWaste Coalition asked this question after a US-based consumer health
watchdog last March 23 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 from both the public and private sectors to
have products randomly purchased and tested for toxic metals and other
contaminants,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s
Project Protect, which 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,” he said.  
As You Sow, which is based in Oakland, California, 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.”
Based on tests conducted by independent laboratories, the cadmium and lead
levels found in the 35 chocolate products obtained by As You Sow from retailers
across the state were above the levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water
and Toxic Enforcement Act.   Both lead
and cadmium are listed under this law as reproductive toxins.
The said law, also known as Proposition 65, 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
None of the 35 chocolate products studied by As You Sow that had high cadmium
and lead levels provided legally required warning to consumers.
To help enforce the labeling requirement under Proposition 65, As You Sow filed
legal notices against the chocolate manufacturers.
“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 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. 
The “Flint disaster” refers to the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint,
Michigan, which could have exposed up to 12,000 children to drinking water with
high levels of lead, the EcoWaste Coalition explained. 
As You Sow pointed out that “lead is
linked to a variety of neurological impairments, including learning disabilities,
seizures, and a lower IQ.”  It stressed
that “developing fetuses and children are especially vulnerable to lead
exposure because their brains are in critical growth and development stages.”
“Cadmium can cause damage to the
kidney, liver, and bones, while also impairing neurobehavioral development,” it
“Lead and cadmium
accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for
children,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. 
“Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these
metals in their products,”  she added.


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