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Dangerous Levels Of Lead, Cadmium In Popular Chocolate Brands, Watchdog Group Alleges

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- As parents get ready to fill their children's Easter baskets, a Bay Area group is raising questions about the levels of dangerous heavy metals in some popular name brand chocolates.

Oakland-based health watchdog group As You Sow released the list of chocolates that it says expose consumers to heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, sometimes triple the legal limit in California.

According to that nonprofit group, some of the chocolate that will go into Easter baskets have unhealthy amounts of heavy metal. The group tested about fifty types of chocolates this year, and say 35 tested positive for illegal levels of lead or cadmium, or both.

"We assumed that companies were testing their products before they put them on the market but they're not," Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow said.

There is no safe limit of lead for children, it can cause a loss of IQ, and neurological damage.

Chronic cadmium exposure has been linked to kidney, liver and bone damage.

Both heavy metals can stay in your system for years.

"So, it's not just one time and then it flushes out," Behar said.

Popular brand names on the list include the Bay Area's Ghirardelli and See's. Trader Joe's had some products on the list, which caught some shoppers off guard.

"It needs to be removed from the shelves," Shopper Kimberly Macalino said.

As You Sow approached all companies with their results and told KPIX 5 that only two companies had asked to work with them to fix the problem.  The others denied any wrongdoing.

The National Confectioner Association said in a statement that "Consumers can rest assured that our products are safe, and that our industry adheres to all government regulations."


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