Beware of chocolate

TECNO chocolate adaniel buenoThe chocolate sold in Brazil contains small quantifies of metals including cadmium and lead, which can have harmful long-term effects on human health when consumed at high concentrations. A group of chemists at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) analyzed 30 samples of white, milk, and semi-sweet chocolate purchased in the city of Campinas early in 2014, and discovered that, although detectable, the levels of these two elements fall within the limits recommended by Brazilian, European Union, and World Health Organization laws and regulations (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, August 2014). However, two samples, from different brands, contained more lead that the FDA allows. The higher the cacao content in the chocolate, the higher the contamination, which suggests that the contamination source is the cacao fruit itself. The detected levels seem safe enough, so long as excessive consumption is avoided. In the worst case, if a 15-kilogram child ate 10 grams of 75% cacao chocolate per day, she would be consuming 20% of the cadmium levels acceptable to the European Union. Not every ingested metal is absorbed by the human body, but nevertheless, it seems prudent to limit the amount of dark chocolate given to small children.