5 Safest Dark Chocolate Brands, According to a Study on Heavy Metals

A recent study has raised concerns about the safety of dark chocolate, as an investigation by Consumer Reports found high levels of heavy metals lead and cadmium in many popular dark chocolate bars. As a result, Hershey and Trader Joe’s are facing lawsuits over the findings.

However, not all brands were affected by the findings of the study. According to Consumer Reports, five types of dark chocolate bars had relatively low levels of lead and cadmium, based on California’s maximum allowable dose level, which the organization described as the most protective standard in the country. It is worth noting that currently, there is no federal standard for lead and cadmium in foods.

These five bars were all deemed “safer choices,” according to the study.

Mast Organic Dark Chocolate

In contrast to the brands facing lawsuits, New York-based Mast Brothers, who were once considered pioneers in the artisanal chocolate movement, performed well in the Consumer Reports study. Their chocolate bars registered the lowest lead levels among all the bars tested and their cadmium content was also under half the maximum allowable level. Mast Brothers faced controversy in 2015 over claims that their confections did not always live up to their “bean-to-bar” standards. Mast’s simple 80% Cacao bar, made with just three listed ingredients—cocoa beans, cane sugar, and vanilla beans—is available from retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans.

Taza Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate

Taza, a Massachusetts-based mom-and-pop-founded shop, claims to be the first American chocolate maker to set up a third-party certified Direct Trade-sourcing program, which seems to have paid off when it comes to product safety as well. Taza’s stone-ground Deliciously Dark variety contained the second lowest amount of lead in the entire Consumer Reports study. The level of cadmium also fell within the safer range. Described as a “bold balance of sweet and bitter” on the company’s website, the cocoa bean- and cocoa butter-blended bar can be found at specialty stores such as Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate

Ghirardelli is a well-known chocolate maker based in California, USA, known for its high-quality products that can be found in various stores nationwide. Their Intense Dark 86% Cacao bar is considered a “safer choice” as it ranked third lowest in lead and had the lowest cadmium level among all the chocolate bars in that category, according to a study. It can be found in most stores where chocolate is sold.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight

The Ghirardelli’s Twilight Delight chocolate bar also falls within the safer range for both lead and cadmium levels, according to a study. It contains 72% Cacao and has five ingredients which include unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract, and soy lecithin. The bar is described as “intensely delicious” on the company’s website. It can be found at Walmart, Rite Aid, and many other stores.

Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate

Valrhona is a century-old French brand that is known for its mission of excellence. It makes “safer” chocolate products but a study found that its 85% Cacao dark chocolate bar had the highest levels of lead among all the “safer choices” in the study. However, it fared better than several others on the cadmium scale. Valrhona chocolate is available at specialty chocolate shops and upscale supermarkets.



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