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Toxic metals in chocolate? Health Canada finds levels not concerning following U.S. report – National

Last month, Consumer Reports (CR) revealed that dozens of dark chocolate products sold in the US contain cadmium and lead — two heavy metals that can cause a variety of health problems, including kidney damage and immune system suppression, in both children and adults .

Products featured in the report included chocolates from Hershey’s, Theo, Trader Joe’s and Lindt, many of which are sold here in Canada. However, according to assessments by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada, the metal levels detected in these products do not currently pose a risk to consumers.

“If a product poses a risk, the CFIA will determine the most appropriate measures to mitigate the risk,” the food safety agency said in an email to Global News on Thursday.

“If a recall is decided as one of the actions, details of the recalled product will be made available on the Canadian Government’s Recall and Safety Alert website.”

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Reuters reported Monday that Trader Joe’s has been sued by consumers at least nine times over its dark chocolate since Consumer Reports published its study on December 15 last year. Hershey’s and Mondelez were also sued over the results, as were other chocolate makers, including Godiva and Lindt.

However, the CFIA says that while the agency is aware of the published report, it has conducted its own investigations in the past, examining a variety of contaminants in food.

“A sample of foods containing chocolate were tested for lead and cadmium, among other things, in 2012-13 and 2017-18,” the CFIA said.

According to the agency, none of the products tested had high or risky levels of heavy metals.

Why are toxic metals in food?

According to the Government of Canada’s website, lead and cadmium are “naturally occurring metals” that enter the environment through both natural and industrial processes, entering the air, soil and water.

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They can also be found in food, drinking water and house dust.

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The website states that lead levels in the environment “have decreased significantly in recent decades due to the phasing out of the use of lead paint, gasoline and the solder used in tin cans”.

Lead and cadmium can’t be added to food, the government says, but because of their widespread occurrence in the environment, they are found in all foods, generally in very small amounts.

What are the acceptable levels of lead and cadmium in food?

Health Canada and the CFIA routinely monitor levels of cadmium and lead in a variety of foods sold in Canada, including chocolate products, the food safety agency told Global News.

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The agency said Health Canada has conducted “scientific assessments of cadmium and lead from all foods” showing that chocolate contributes less than five percent to “total dietary exposure to these trace minerals and that chocolate consumption by the Canadian population does not pose a health concern.” Problem.”

“As a result, no need has been identified to set maximum levels (MLs) for cadmium and lead in chocolate products sold in Canada,” the agency added.

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Could low metal levels still be considered dangerous?

According to Tunde Akinleye, the Consumer Reports food safety researcher who oversaw the chocolate testing, there is a risk that “continuous, long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a variety of health problems,” and it’s best not to being a frequent consumer of these products.

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“The danger is greatest for pregnant women and young children because the metals can cause developmental problems, impair brain development and lead to lower IQ…but there are risks for people of all ages,” Akinyeye said in the published report.

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He said these risks include problems in the nervous system, high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, kidney damage and reproductive problems.

But the report states that “a single ounce of even one of the chocolates with the highest levels of cadmium and lead in CR tests is unlikely to do immediate harm.” The risk is having too much contaminated chocolate.

Consumer Reports also pointed out that these heavy metals are already absorbed into our bodies from other important and healthy foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach, “so it’s best to only eat dark chocolate occasionally.”

“One serving a few days a week, especially with a lower content product, means you can eat dark chocolate without overly worrying,” Akinleye said.

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Wellness, nutrition and food trends for 2023

— with files from Reuters

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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