Are you afraid of Cadmium in chocolate?

Cadmium is a heavy metal considered toxic for the human body. When ingested or inhaled, it is not well absorbed by the body, so it accumulates over time and can have detrimental effects on kidneys, lungs and bones. This is why it is classified as a human carcinogen and can potentially increase the risks of cancer.

Although much concern surrounds its consumption, chocolate is not among the foods with the highest contamination of cadmium. As the European Commission highlights:

“The food groups that contribute most of the dietary cadmium exposure are cereals and cereal products, vegetables, nuts and pulses, starchy roots or potatoes, and meat and meat products. Also tobacco smoking can contribute to a similar internal exposure as that from the diet.”

Unfortunately, cadmium can’t be “taken out” of chocolate or completely avoided. It is not even the result of industrial processes or questionable manufacturing decisions. No fingers can be pointed at someone in the cacao supply chain for the presence of cadmium in chocolate. Because before any farming practice or chocolate making process, cadmium is already there. Not in the beans, not inside the tree, but in the soil.

Despite being considered the world’s prime supplier of fine cacao, cocoa beans from Latin America are particularly affected by cadmium contamination. Due to higher volcanic activities, traces of cadmium are more prominent in cacao from Latin America than for example from West Africa.

It’s clear that little can be done to prevent cadmium in chocolate or completely eradicate the problem in the short term. For consumers, it is no fun to know that one of their favorite foods might contain heavy metals. However, cadmium in chocolate should not represent a great concern.

As mentioned above, there are other foods consumed daily and in larger quantities that are more affected by cadmium contamination than chocolate. Chocolate consumption that is limited to moderate quantities does not represent a danger for the human body. The side effects of cadmium can also be contrasted by maintaining sufficient levels of iron, calcium and zinc.

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