At Fresco, the only thing more important to us than how our chocolate tastes, is that it is safe to consume. We regularly test our chocolate for all the normal things that safe food should be tested for including E. coli, salmonella, coliform, staphylococcus, yeast, and mold. These bacteria and toxins are often the result of poor processing practices and can cause serious health risks. We’ve never tested positive for any of these items and work diligently to keep our chocolate safe.
Recent publications have highlighted the presence of the heavy metals cadmium and lead in chocolate. These metals are naturally occurring in many foods, including chocolate. Here’s a little more information about these two metals and how we assure our chocolate remains safe to consume.
According to the FDA, lead is widely present in our environment due to its natural occurrence and due to human activities. Foods may become contaminated with lead if they are grown, stored or processed under conditions with lead present. The FDA’s objective is reducing consumer lead exposure to the lowest levels that can be practically obtained. Current FDA guidelines recommend that lead levels in candy products, including chocolate, likely to be consumed frequently by small children not exceed 0.1 parts per million (ppm).
Cadmium is a naturally occurring component in soil. In regions with more acidic soil or higher volcanic activity, soil cadmium levels tend to be higher. Cacao trees can absorb cadmium into the pods and seeds. The European Union (EU) has established maximum safe cadmium levels for chocolate products. Any products exceeding the established levels cannot be imported into EU countries. The maximum cadmium level for dark chocolate with > 50% cocoa is 0.8 ppm.
At Fresco, we test each of our cacao origins for lead and cadmium. We’re pleased to report that our 2022-2023 chocolate lineup has all tested well below maximum safe limits. As we add new cacao origins and replenish cacao for current origins, testing for safe levels of cadmium and lead will always be a part of our acceptance criteria.