Dear Mindo Chocolate Friend,
You may have seen the Consumer Reports article (or other spin-off articles) recently about heavy metals found in dark chocolate and you might be wondering whether it is a healthy choice for you to eat frequently. The answer is: it depends. Meaning, it depends on where the chocolate maker is sourcing their cocoa or chocolate from and how the beans are treated.
Mindo Chocolate Makers has control over the entire process. Most chocolate makers purchase beans from cocoa brokers and ask no questions about the soil conditions, the drying practices, etc. They are purchasing the least expensive cocoa beans which means that they are almost exclusively purchased from Western Africa (the Ivory Coast and Ghana mostly). We always oversee the treatment of the beans that we purchase and require lab test results for the beans that we source.
There are two heavy metals that are sometimes found in chocolate: cadmium and lead. They find their way into chocolate in different ways:
Cadmium is naturally occurring in soil or cadmium comes from contamination from pollutants in the air, water or soil. Some soil contains more cadmium than others. There are areas of Ecuador where Cadmium is an issue. Cadmium is then absorbed by plants and shows up in very tiny amounts in some cocoa beans. We source our beans from farms where cadmium is not as prevalent and we also require lab tests for the beans that we purchase. We never purchase cocoa beans with unsafe levels of cadmium.
Lead gets into chocolate in a variety of ways, but mostly by exposure of the beans to leaded gasoline or contact with any metal that contains lead. Some countries that produce cocoa use leaded gasoline and in many cases, cocoa beans dry along the road after being harvested. Ecuador does not use leaded gasoline. We only use beans that are dried on drying beds elevated off the ground away from contaminants. The beans are also protected from possible lead contamination because they are dried inside an enclosed greenhouse. 70% of cocoa beans purchased by most other chocolate manufacturers (not Mindo) come from Ghana and the Ivory Coast where leaded gasoline is still used and other precautions are not in place.
If you have any questions about this issue or are interested in learning more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mindo Team