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BrianMDelaney

Cadmium contamination in cacao products

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On 9/28/2018 at 10:42 PM, Sibiriak said:

Thanks kpfleger.   Can you tell us  which cacao powders had the highest flavanol content and which had  the the best flavanol/cadmium ratios?

There are no cocoa powders that have a better flavanol to bad metals ratio than the Navitas Naturals nibs. In particular note that the Navitas Naturals powder has much more cadmium than the nibs. So you'd be much better off crushing the nibs yourself. (Of course, if you really like crushing, you could maybe crush a 100% bar that has even less cadmium.)

There was one powder that had low cadmium, but it had high lead, so that's no help.

 

Even without paying or having a login, you can read the teaser page about the report here:

https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Cocoa_Powders_and_Chocolates_Sources_of_Flavanols/cocoa-flavanols/

There is some info in the teaser page, and there is an 11min video that explains some of the basic topics like what levels of flavanols are therapeutic and what levels of cadmium are bad. The video does also talk a bit about dutching chocolate and how that can allow for darker % but lowers flavanols. The video mostly doesn't talk specific brands but does mention Aduna Super-Cacao, which had the highest flavanol and flavanol/cadmium ratio in their chart, but the ratio is still worse than the Navitas Naturals nibs, and the video discusses how there is a reformulation of that product that decreases the flavanols so they don't recommend it.

 

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On 10/3/2018 at 12:42 PM, kpfleger said:

There are no cocoa powders that have a better flavanol to bad metals ratio than the Navitas Naturals nibs. In particular note that the Navitas Naturals powder has much more cadmium than the nibs

I think flavanol content (and to a lesser extent cadmium content) are highly variable between batches. There is no reason to assume that one batch of one brand will have the same levels the following harvest. Someone on the forum contacted Trader Joe's and they guaranteed their cacao powder to be:

"Alkali used in processing - no

Cadmium <0.6 ppm or it doesn't ship to their stores (so it could be less, but this is the max allowable)

Lead <0.0001 ppm or it doesn't ship to their stores (so it could be less, but this is the max allowable)

Polyphenols - 4 grams per 100 grams of product (I actually asked about flavanols, but since it isn't a nutritional supplement they don't measure/track it and she provided polyphenol levels instead)"

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9 hours ago, tea said:

I think flavanol content (and to a lesser extent cadmium content) are highly variable between batches. There is no reason to assume that one batch of one brand will have the same levels the following harvest. Someone on the forum contacted Trader Joe's and they guaranteed their cacao powder to be:

"Alkali used in processing - no

Cadmium <0.6 ppm or it doesn't ship to their stores (so it could be less, but this is the max allowable)

Lead <0.0001 ppm or it doesn't ship to their stores (so it could be less, but this is the max allowable)

Polyphenols - 4 grams per 100 grams of product (I actually asked about flavanols, but since it isn't a nutritional supplement they don't measure/track it and she provided polyphenol levels instead)"

It's true that I expect both the bad heavy metals and the good flavanols to vary and CL doesn't explicit address this variability that I noticed. I'm sure it's expensive to run the lab test and thus to test everything multiple times to get a range would be harder. It'd be nice if they tested some example products multiple times (eg buying national brands in different geos and over different seasons and showing a distribution to get a sense of the kind of variability) but I haven't seen it if they have done this.

Still, they do often test the same products in different years and I trust them a lot more than I trust some customer service representative from Trader Joe's. In fact, they tested Trader Joe's unsweetened powder and found it exceeded acceptable thresholds in both 2014 and 2017 (1.2+ mcg cadmium / g of powder both years). I don't know what their quoted "ppm" means in this context but either it's a misleading metric or their quality control isn't as good as the rep claims. Navitas Naturals nibs only had 0.32mcg/g of cadmium.

Since Trader Joe's 85% bar had 0.73mcg/g (vs Endangered Species 88% with 0.06mcg/g and several other bars with low levels), this doesn't seem to be an issue isolated to their powder. I personally will stay away from Trader Joe's branded chocolate, at least until they improve on future updates of these reports.

 

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That's interesting. Did they test the raw cacao powder (Peru) or their unsweetened dutched Cocoa powder?

Ppm should be the same as mcg/gram, so if the results of the CL tests are accurate than Trader Joe's QC is definitely in need of some improvement.

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Regarding Zn and Cd in chocolate products and risk to humans from lifetime excess Cd absorption. Research with food levels of Cd and Zn has shown that Zn can strongly inhibit Cd absorption. Zn is usually at least 100-fold Cd in foods, except rice. Rice is the food that has caused essentially all food-caused Cd disease. Farmers in Japan, China and Thailand who grew their crop on paddy soils contaminated by upstream mining, and consumed the home-grown rice for decades, are the only population other than Cd-industry workers who suffered Cd disease. Rice is deficient in Zn, Fe and Ca for human nutrition, and each of these elements interacts with and reduces risk of dietary Cd.

Regarding Cd in chocolate products, the JECFA (which is part of WHO, and establishes allowable daily intake of Cd, etc.) in their latest statement about Cd in chocolate noted that although Cd in chocolate can be higher than desired, because of the low consumption of chocolate and levels of other nutrients in chocolate, that they did not recommend setting limits on Cd in chocolate products. I'll attach a review paper on nutritional interactions which influence Cd absorption and hence risk.

Tobacco naturally accumulates Cd from soils. The nutritional interactions which reduce Cd absorption in the intestine are not applicable in the lung. Contaminated tobacco products represent a significant risk. Counterfeit cigarettes have been found to contain higher Cd than name brands, up to more than 5 fold normal levels. This is important because even using major brands and smoking one pack per day for 30 years doubles Cd in kidney cortex at age 50. So if you care about Cd, avoid smoking and especially smoking counterfeit cigarettes.

Rufus Chaney

Chaney 2015-How does contamination of rice soils with Cd and Zn-human Cd disease-Curr Pollut Repts.pdf

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Thanks Rufus, 

as described in other threads, I've recently had my urinary cadmium checked, and it was very low. My consumption of cacao powder approaches that of the Kuna Indians in Central America, 30 grams per day average, plus dark chocolate. Another member, strong consumer of cacao, reported low values.

This suggests that, as you wrote, chronic Cd intoxication most probably derives from excessive industrial pollution or tobacco consumption. 

Edited by mccoy

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4 hours ago, mccoy said:

I've recently had my urinary cadmium checked, and it was very low.

Mine was low but when I started taking DMSA for lead poisoning my urinary levels for cadmium and a couple other metals jumped to somewhat alarming levels.  Fortunately they have each dropped at roughly 10% per month of treatment and approaching a year of treatment only lead is still at a somewhat concerning level 

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Since I eat fish, I have my serum and urine checked every few years, for heavy metals (to check for mercury).  They all (including Hg, Pb, Cd, As, many more) come out vanishingly low -- with the exception of As (arsenic), which is high.  More detailed testing showed that inorganic arsenic was low -- organic arsenic was high.  Supposedly organic arsenic is supposed to be OK.

  ??

  --  Saul

Quote

 

 

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On 11/22/2020 at 7:13 AM, Rufus Chaney said:

Research with food levels of Cd and Zn has shown that Zn can strongly inhibit Cd absorption

Thank you, this is very useful to know.  Like mccoy, I have been eating cacao nibs for many years and have tested my cadmium levels and they are below what the lab's minimum levels are.

Methinks ConsumerLab used cadmium levels as a scare tactic to enhance their market presence -- it's what really put them on the map and got them a ton of media exposure, as popular media picked up the story. It worked, as I checked my Ca levels after the story broke out and have checked it again since 🙂

Saul, you might find this to be of interest:

Human exposure to organic arsenic species from seafood

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