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Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

Checking Cocoa and Cacao for Metal

Question:
I asked the distributor of my cacao powder how it checks for metals. They say they do "foreign material detection" to capture "metal fragments." Is this adequate for checking cacao and cocoa for heavy metals, like cadmium, which you've found in other products?

Answer:
No. What that company is describing has nothing to do with detecting elemental metal contamination (as we do) or removing that contamination. The company is describing the way they detect relatively large metal fragments that may be introduced during processing. Such fragments would then, typically, be removed by sifting.

As shown in our Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Nibs Review, heavy metal contamination is very common in cocoa and cacao powders and some dark chocolates. This contamination (typically with cadmium and/or lead) is not due to metal fragments but, most likely, the absorption by cocoa plants of metals in their environment (likely from pesticides and/or volcanic soil). Unfortunately, the levels of cadmium found are often very high -- suggesting that intake should be limited, and it does not seem possible to selectively remove these metals.

For information about how to choose the best quality cocoa powder and dark chocolate with the least contamination see Getting cocoa flavanols without contaminants and our Top Picks among products in the Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Nibs Review.

Learn more about cocoa and dark chocolate:



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COMMENTS

Natalie17120   September 1, 2018
I contacted various manufacturers of cacao nibs to ask for the heavy metal content. One company sent me the 'certificate of analysis & data sheet' which included info about heavy metals, and also mold / bacteria / pesticides. The analysis showed low levels of heavy metals and that is now the brand I buy. (I can supply the name of the company if that is allowed). I suggest you shop around and the manufacturers may get the message that they need to test their product and provide the information to consumers.

ConsumerLab.com   September 1, 2018
Thank you for sharing this, Natalie. You are welcome to identify the company so long as you do not have not have any financial interest.

Natalie17122   September 1, 2018
The company is Sunfood

ConsumerLab.com   September 2, 2018
Although the product certainly may have changed in recent years, you may want to check what we found in Sunfood Raw Cocoa Powder when we tested it in 2014.

Glenn17116   August 29, 2018
Nickel is another problematic ingredient in some of these cacao powders and nibs. At least, personally for me it has been. In fact, my first huge outbreak of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (that ended up being allergy against certain metals like nickel and chromium), happened during a period in which I was mixing cacoa powder into my morning yogurt.

ConsumerLab.com   August 29, 2018
Hi Glenn - Thank you for sharing this. You can find information about nickel in chocolate and cocoa in the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Cocoa_Powders_and_Chocolates_Sources_of_Flavanols/cocoa-flavanols/#nickel


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This CL Answer initially posted on 8/28/2018.
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