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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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