27 March 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Proposes Random Product Tests amid US Report on Cadmium and Lead Chocolates

Are chocolates sold locally safe from toxic cadmium and lead?

The EcoWaste Coalition asked this question after a US-based consumer health watchdog last March 23 reported finding higher than normal levels of cadmium and lead in 35 of 50 chocolate products tested, including Easter chocolate bunnies and eggs.

“We ask this question not to create panic among chocolate-loving Filipinos, but to encourage consumer safety groups from both the public and private sectors to have products randomly purchased and tested for toxic metals and other contaminants,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, which seeks to safeguard the public from harmful chemicals, products and wastes.

“Vigilant compliance monitoring will surely promote company adherence to good manufacturing practices, contribute to food quality and safety and protect consumer health,” he said.  

As You Sow, which is based in Oakland, California, explained that “cadmium and lead may contaminate the chocolate product at many points through the ‘bean to bar’ process; these sources may depend on the cacao growing, fermenting, processing, manufacturing, shipping, and packaging practices.”

Based on tests conducted by independent laboratories, the cadmium and lead levels found in the 35 chocolate products obtained by As You Sow from retailers across the state were above the levels set by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.   Both lead and cadmium are listed under this law as reproductive toxins.

The said law, also known as Proposition 65, requires manufacturers to put a warning label if a product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm above the safe harbor level established by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. With the warning label, consumers can make an informed decision if they want to buy or use the product.

None of the 35 chocolate products studied by As You Sow that had high cadmium and lead levels provided legally required warning to consumers.
To help enforce the labeling requirement under Proposition 65, As You Sow filed legal notices against the chocolate manufacturers.

“Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children,” said Eleanne van Vliet, MPH, As You Sow’s Environmental Health Consultant.

“As underscored by the Flint disaster, humans have contaminated our environment with lead, and now we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and children, who are the most vulnerable of us, from every possible exposure,” said Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. 

The “Flint disaster” refers to the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, which could have exposed up to 12,000 children to drinking water with high levels of lead, the EcoWaste Coalition explained. 

As You Sow pointed out that “lead is linked to a variety of neurological impairments, including learning disabilities, seizures, and a lower IQ.”  It stressed that “developing fetuses and children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure because their brains are in critical growth and development stages.”

“Cadmium can cause damage to the kidney, liver, and bones, while also impairing neurobehavioral development,” it added.

“Lead and cadmium accumulate in the body, so avoiding exposure is important, especially for children,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. 

“Our goal is to work with chocolate manufacturers to find ways to avoid these metals in their products,”  she added.



http://www.asyousow.org/our-work/environmental-health/toxic-enforcement/lead-and-cadmium-in-food/lead-and-cadmium-in-food-faqs/ (please click to see the FAQs)

http://www.asyousow.org/our-work/environmental-health/toxic-enforcement/lead-and-cadmium-in-food/ (please click to see the results)

http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/p65faq.html (please click for more information about Proposition 65)

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