FREE SHIPPING when you order a 12 Pack (or more) of Wild Mountain Chocolate (Canada & US only).

Lead and Cadmium in Chocolate

Lead and Cadmium in Chocolate

There has been lot of media attention on the level of lead and cadmium in chocolate since December when a US consumer reports organization released a report on their investigation on the level of lead and cadmium in chocolate.  Various media outlets have picked up on the story with the latest being CBC who published a balanced article on the topic on February 13, 2023.  We wish to address any concerns our customers may have about heavy metals in Wild Mountain Chocolate’s products.

Lead and cadmium are found in chocolate at trace levels, as well as many other foods such as leafy greens, rice, cereal, nuts and pulses.  Food and ingredients grown in the ground absorb heavy metals in addition to the nutrients the plants take through its natural growth processes.  This is because trace amounts of heavy metals are naturally found in the soil.  There are different concentrations in food ingredients depending on the geographical location and the type of food being grown. For example, root vegetables will absorb a greater level of heavy metals than some other plants grown in the same location.  In the case of chocolate, it is the cocoa bean ingredient which primarily impacts the levels of lead and cadmium present.

Heavy metals in chocolate have been in the news and have been assessed by government regulatory bodies for many years.  Consequently, Wild Mountain Chocolate has been working with our supply partners monitoring for heavy metal content in our cocoa beans as part of our standard food safety protocols. Neither Health Canada nor the FDA in the USA, have established regulations limiting the amount of heavy metals in most foods.  In Canada, Health Canada issued a statement which was quoted in a recent Global News article where they state “scientific assessments of cadmium and lead from all foods“ show chocolate contributes less than 5% to “overall dietary exposures of these trace elements and that consumption of chocolate by the Canadian population does not represent a health concern”. “As a result, a need to establish maximum levels specific to cadmium and lead in chocolate products sold in Canada has not been identified”[1] . With no regulations in Canada quantifying and limiting the amount of heavy metals naturally occurring in chocolate, Wild Mountain Chocolate has looked to the maximum levels established by the European Union[2].

Wild Mountain Chocolate works hard to deliver safe products for our customers to enjoy and part of that process is sourcing safe cocoa beans.  In the absence of federal regulations, we ensure our cocoa beans are below the maximum levels set by the European Union before we purchase them and then follow up on those test results with another test for heavy metals after we have received our cocoa beans.  We are proud of our sourcing of ingredients, our production processes and of course the resulting delicious products we make for our consumers to enjoy. 

As with all the other food items which may contain naturally occurring heavy metals, the quantity consumed is also an important consideration when it comes to daily intake of lead and cadmium.  Consumers typically eat significantly less dark chocolate than say a Hershey bar. This was addressed in the CBC article[3] where Yaxi Hu, an Assistant Professor in the Carlton University Chemistry Department’s Food Science program and lead of the University’s Food Analytical Chemistry and Technology Laboratory says “It’s a candy that you are not eating like one kilogram every day on a daily basis. As a person who eats one or two pieces of dark chocolate on a daily basis, I am not too worried about it.”

While we will continue to assess cadmium and lead levels in our cocoa beans and work at reducing those levels, it is important for cocoa farmers around the world that the big picture prevail. Trace amounts of lead and cadmium are naturally present in cocoa beans and chocolate along with many, many other food items which are consumed daily by Canadians.  The quantity of the food item consumed is an important factor in determining total intake of the heavy metals from a particular food.  The Canadian Regulatory body, Health Canada states “consumption of chocolate by the Canadian population does not represent a health concern”[4] and Health Canada’s assessment is that chocolate contributes less than 5% to “overall dietary exposures to these trace elements”.  I for one will continue to enjoy a little chocolate every day.


[1] Global News

[2] Cadmium  Lead

[3] CBC article “A test of dark chocolate found traces of lead and cadmium. Do you need to give it up?” published February 13, 2023

[4] CBC article “A test of dark chocolate found traces of lead and cadmium. Do you need to give it up?” published February 13, 2023