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Consumer Reports finds concerning lead and cadmium levels in chocolate: Hershey at large

In recent developments, Consumer Reports has raised significant concerns regarding the levels of lead and cadmium found in various chocolate products, urging Hershey to take proactive steps to reduce the presence of these heavy metals in their chocolates. This call for action is a response to their recent findings, which indicated that approximately one-third of the chocolate products they tested contained levels of lead and cadmium that are deemed “concerning.”

Consumer Reports, a non-profit consumer group, conducted a comprehensive analysis of chocolate products across various categories, including dark chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and various mixes for brownies, chocolate cake, and hot chocolate. Within this rigorous testing process, their scientists identified that 16 out of 48 products from different manufacturers exhibited potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium, or, in some cases, both.

The Affected Chocolate Products

The chocolate products found to contain excessive levels of heavy metals include:

  • A dark chocolate bar and hot chocolate mix from Walmart
  • Cocoa powder from Hershey’s and Droste
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips from Target
  • Hot chocolate mixes from Trader Joe’s, Nestle, and Starbucks

It is noteworthy that only milk chocolate bars, which typically have lower cocoa solids, were found to be free from excessive metal content. This revelation underscores the critical importance of understanding the source and composition of chocolate products to make informed choices.

Health Implications of Excessive Metal Content

Consumer Reports has sounded the alarm about the potential health hazards associated with long-term exposure to lead and cadmium. These heavy metals can result in nervous system problems, immune system suppression, and kidney damage, with greater danger posed to pregnant women and young children. The implications of these findings extend beyond consumer health; they also raise questions about the responsibility of manufacturers and processors to ensure the safety of their food products.

Consumer Reports finds concerning lead and cadmium levels in chocolate: Hershey at large
Long-term contact with these metals, according to Consumer Reports, may lead to issues with the nervous system, weakened immune system, and harm to the kidneys. Pregnant women and young children are particularly at risk. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Regulatory Response

In response to these findings, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communicated to Consumer Reports that experts internationally consider chocolate a “minor source of exposure” to lead and cadmium. However, it is crucial to note that manufacturers and processors remain responsible for ensuring the safety of their products.

Hershey’s Role and Responsibility

Consumer Reports is particularly vocal about Hershey, as a leading and popular brand in the chocolate industry, playing a vital role in ensuring the safety of its products. This advocacy is based on the understanding that Hershey’s chocolates, like other products, are not immune to the presence of lead and cadmium. Brian Ronholm, Consumer Reports’ food policy director, emphasized the need for Hershey to commit to making its chocolate safer.

Hershey has previously acknowledged the issue. In March, their Chief Financial Officer, Steve Voskuil, expressed the company’s commitment to reducing the levels of lead and cadmium in their chocolates. Voskuil emphasized that these metals are elements present in the soil, which can naturally occur in chocolate products. He stated the company’s desire to eradicate these metals completely.

Consumer Reports has taken steps to engage Hershey in this matter. More than 75,000 consumers previously signed a petition urging Hershey to reduce heavy metals in its chocolate. Following the recent findings, the non-profit is once again petitioning Hershey to address this pressing concern.

Consumer Reports finds concerning lead and cadmium levels in chocolate: Hershey at large
A total of 16 out of 48 tested products from different manufacturers, as stated by Consumer Reports, were found to have levels of lead, cadmium, or both, which could potentially be harmful, according to the organization’s scientists. (REUTERS)

A Unified Call for Action

While Hershey is the focal point of this call for action, the broader concern is the presence of lead and cadmium in various chocolate products. Ensuring the safety of these products is an industry-wide responsibility that extends beyond a single brand. Consumers, advocacy groups, and manufacturers alike should unite in ensuring that the chocolates we love can be enjoyed without compromising our health.


Consumer Reports’ findings highlight a crucial issue that affects not only the chocolate industry but also the well-being of consumers. The presence of lead and cadmium in chocolate products raises serious concerns about long-term health effects. As consumers, we should stay informed and support initiatives that promote safer chocolate consumption. It is imperative for Hershey and other manufacturers to take proactive measures to address this issue and guarantee the safety of their products. The call for action serves as a reminder that we all share a collective responsibility to protect the health of chocolate lovers worldwide.

Kyle James Lee

Majority Owner of The AEGIS Alliance. I studied in college for Media Arts, Game Development. Talents include Writer/Article Writer, Graphic Design, Photoshop, Web Design and Development, Video Production, Social Media, and eCommerce.

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