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Dagoba recall because of lead contamination
April 14, 2006
6:05 am
dod488
Fieldbrook, USA
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Please see http://www.dagobachocolate.com/recall/ for more information. They are recalling 40,000 pounds of bars, bricks and drops. Contamination appears to be limited to Eclipse 87%, Los Rios 68% and Prima Materia 100%.

Hal

April 14, 2006
2:17 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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How sad! Just confirms my personal sceptisizm of the current state of actual "organic certification" process in tropical countries. Brave of Dagoba, though scary to imagine how lead can be missed on "initial certificates of analysis"!

April 15, 2006
8:00 am
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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I agree that it's very disappointing to hear of lead turning up in a certified organic chocolate, and this clearly indicates that organic certification is not perfect.

But I'd like to make a number of points in relation to this situation:

1. From what I've read, Dagoba's recall was voluntary - meaning that they breached "guidelines", not the law.

Also, the lead contamination apparently only applies to three products, and only since November 2005. (While this is by no means acceptable, it certainly doesn't support the argument that lead was "missed" on the "initial certificates of analysis", as suggested by Ellie).

2. Lead is a very common contaminant in chocolate - and generally speaking, the higher the cocoa content, the higher the lead levels.

Children are considered to be much more vulnerable to lead toxicity than adults. Hence, the US FDA sets "a recommended maximum level for lead in candy likely to be consumed frequently by small children of 0.1 ppm". (By comparison, the EPA's "action level" for lead in drinking water is 0.015ppm).

Dark chocolate is exempt from this "recommendation" because "less than 1% of the children under age 6 surveyed consumed dark chocolate".

However, the US FDA recognises that "dark chocolate samples tended to have higher lead levels than milk chocolate samples because chocolate liquor is the principal source of lead in chocolate products".

Ref: [url="http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/pbcandy.html"]Supporting Document for Recommended Maximum Level for Lead in Candy Likely To Be Consumed Frequently by Small Children[/url]

3. Organic certification is better than nothing - better the lead you know.

If companies (such as Dagoba) that care about pesticide and heavy metal contamination both test for these contaminants and publicise the results, at least you know the risks you're taking.

If, however, you as a consumer choose to abandon certified organic chocolate, not only are you highly likely to continue encountering lead in other chocolates - you'll also be far more likely to encounter very nasty pesticides like lindane, as well as encouraging the use of other dangerous pesticides like methyl bromide (the quarantine fumigant of choice in the industry).

Just in case you think that by avoiding Dagoba, you'll be avoiding lead - consider that according to a [url="http://www.aesi.ws/documents/Aesi%20v.%20Mars%20Complaint.pdf"]law suit[/url] filed in 2002, "various chocolate products manufactured and sold by [Mars, Hershey, Nestle, Kraft, and See's] in and for use in California contain Lead and Cadmium at levels above those permitted by [url="http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/law/P65law72003.html"]Proposition 65[/url]. The case was apparently dropped because, at the time, there was insufficient evidence to prove that the lead wasn't a naturally occuring chemical in the cocoa.

I know that not many people on this list would deign to eat Hershey's - but the point remains: chocolate commonly contains traces of lead. Especially chocolates with high cocoa content.

4. So where does lead in chocolate come from?

The law suit referred to in point 3 (above) prompted a scientific analysis of lead in cocoa and cocoa products. The results were published in 2005, in a paper titled "[url="http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/8009/8009.html"]Lead Contamination in Cocoa and Cocoa Products[/url]".

The study found lead in all but one of the chocolate samples, in quantities ranging from 0.01ppm (in "chocolate candy") to 0.07ppm (in a bittersweet chocolate).

Worse, the average lead concentration in "manufactured cocoa" was found to be 0.2ppm (that's twice the maximum lead levels considered safe for children by the FDA, and more than thirteen times the "action level" for lead in drinking water).

The study discovered that lead is generally added to cocoa beans at some point after harvesting. The most likely culprit is thought to be atmospheric fumes from leaded fuel. Consider that many Third World cocoa growing countries not only still use leaded fuel (gasolina con plomo, as it's called in Ecuador) - but people often dry cocoa beans right on the road, because the asphalt provides a lovely drying surface! [url="http://www.tava.com.au/res/cocoa_drying_on_road.jpg"]See a photo of cocoa drying on the road in Ecuador[/url]. (I note with interest that all of the recalled chocolates were made from beans grown in Ecuador).

Sam

April 15, 2006
11:20 am
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Absolutely agree.
I've pointed out that I had doubts about organic certification in situ, not the Dagoba factory. I presume to have organic certification, they are buying organically certified cocoa from farmers, isn't it the practice?
And the full quote from Dagoba's own press release:
"What we can tell you now is that the initial certificates of analysis on the cocoa used in the recalled products showed acceptable trace amounts of lead which were below FDA guidelines. However, our follow-up testing found lead levels above FDA guidelines, with variation across these results."
Do you mean that possibly the tests were made, and FDA guidelines became stricter? Why have they not simply explain it?

April 15, 2006
12:48 pm
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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Ellie, you asked: "Do you mean that possibly the tests were made, and FDA guidelines became stricter?"

No, I don't mean that.

To clarify, the [url="http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2006/0404/local/stories/01local.htm"]Mail Tribune[/url] reports that:

"Dagoba routinely tests all raw cocoa at point of origin and again after it arrives in the United States. Schilling and Williams said when the tainted cocoa was tested in Ecuador, there was no indication lead was above acceptable levels. It is not clear whether the tests in Ecuador were flawed or at what point the lead levels became unacceptable."

This scenario actually fits in precisely with the point I mentioned in my previous post, namely that cocoa typically becomes contaminated with lead well after it is harvested - in other words, the lead doesn't seem to get into the cocoa tree via water sources, or synthetic fertilisers etc.

Sam

April 15, 2006
9:06 pm
Sebastian
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Well, there definately is anabolic pickup; however, the vast majority of lead is found on the shell, and is precisely due to what you previsously mention oz - leaded gasoline runoff from the thoroughfares. If they've had a spike in their lead levels, they probably want to look very closely at the equipment used to winnow the beans to ensure it's functioning at maximum efficiency (by law, the chocolate can't contain more than 1.75% shell anyway - the lower they can keep this number the lower their lead levels will be).

May 12, 2006
2:24 pm
Art Pollard
Provo, USA
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This is sad news. Any time that something happens like this to one chocolate manufacturer, it happens to a certain degree to the rest. Besides, Frederick over at Dagoba is a nice guy and it is too bad that something like this happened to him.

On the plus side, it is good that it was a voluntary recall rather than an involuntary one.

There was a study that seems to imply that the lead contamination occurs during shipping / processing. The reference is here:

http://www.ehponline.org/docs/.....tract.html
There is an opposing response (and authors rebuttal) here:
http://www.ehponline.org/docs/.....etter.html

I wish Dagoba best of luck in the future so that this does not happen again,

-Art

Fine Chocolate Made From The Bean
http://www.amanochocolate.com

Fine Chocolate Made From The Bean http://www.amanochocolate.com
May 12, 2006
2:57 pm
alex_h
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can lead contamination cause changes in the way a chocolate tastes? does anyone know?

May 12, 2006
3:57 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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February 14, 2006
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Lead contamination will not be noticed by taste. When it comes to lead contamination, it is often discussed in parts per million- levels essentially invisible to human perception.

I myself had eaten a portion of Dagoba's Los Rios Arriba bar before hearing of the recall. The bar tasted marvelous, despite the lead. I never tasted any lead and only threw it away after hearing of the high levels of lead.

Sean

May 12, 2006
5:22 pm
alex_h
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thanks, sean. i was just wondering because some of the arriba chocolates i have tasted lately have this really awful almost metallic taste.

August 2, 2006
1:46 pm
alex_h
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btw, does anyone know more about cadmium levels in chocolate?

a german consumer guide has tested some bars and found that many had high levels of cadmium. it was noted that the higher the cocoa content the higher the cadmium level. particularly quality chocolate is supposed to contain greater amounts.

August 2, 2006
3:17 pm
Masur
Stockholm, Sweden
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Extract from ICCO website:

quote:


Cadmium is a heavy metal which exists naturally in low concentrations in all soils. It is spread by air and water and is absorbed by many plants. Fertilisers may also be a source of cadmium in plants. It is difficult to assess the source of cadmium content in a plant because it exists everywhere. But some research has shown that for Central American cocoa high cadmium content is related to the specific local constituency of the soil. As opposed to African cocoa kernels which contain 0.08-0.14 mg/kg, values from 0.18-1.5 mg/kg are found in fine cocoa varieties from Venezuela and Ecuador. Volcanic soils have an above average cadmium content.

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
August 2, 2006
3:26 pm
alex_h
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whew! that's seems like a lot!
so, shall we all stick to african cacao?

August 2, 2006
4:57 pm
Masur
Stockholm, Sweden
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I prefer Venezuelan bars[:)]!

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
August 3, 2006
8:32 am
alex_h
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yo, me too! .)
but if they're really that toxic, i dunno.
domori says their sambirano is organic even though not labeled as such. if, in addition to that, it also has lower levels of cadmium...

August 3, 2006
11:33 am
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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What was your source, Alex? Recent tests?

August 3, 2006
11:39 am
alex_h
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my source is a german consumer guide. here is a link to the article (in german, of course):

[url="http://www.oekotest.de/cgi/ot/otgs.cgi?suchtext=Bitterschokolade&doc=37472&pos=0&splits=0:1638:3392"]cadmium in chocolate[/url]

masur has a list of links to machine translation tools here somewhere to help.

August 3, 2006
11:49 am
Masur
Stockholm, Sweden
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Free Language Translation - Sticky in forum "Chocolate shows, salons and events":
[url]http://www.seventypercent.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=405[/url]

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
August 3, 2006
12:58 pm
ellie
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Interesting, though does not feel enough reseached. Hope i understood correctly, but the chocolates they state as worst, Cote D'Or 86% Cacao Noir-de-Noir, and Viviani Bitter 85% Cacao, I have always presumed to be made from african, not venezielian cocoa.

August 3, 2006
1:07 pm
alex_h
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machine translations aren't the best.
in the part that you are quoting, ellie, they are not talking about the cadmium levels. in this case they are talking about the amount of cocoa solids in each bar tested. the bars listed were those where cocoa content was not exactly as declared.

Dagoba recall because of lead contamination | News | Forum