Consumer Alert: How to avoid lead in your child’s trick or treat bag

Halloween is right around the corner, It’s the holiday we all identify with candy. But your little one may have more than sweets in his trick or treat bag. Consumer Reports tested 48 different chocolate products from candy bars to hot cocoa and brownies. And it found a third had high levels of two dangerous heavy metals, cadmium, and lead.

The news comes just days before trick-or-treaters across the country hit neighborhoods in search of candy. And if your child is like mine, they make a game of seeing how much candy they can collect by the end of the night. And according to Instacart, chocolate reigns supreme. It evaluated the Halloween candy folks are buying and listed the most popular. Four of the top five picks contain chocolate.

But while Consumer Reports found some level of lead and cadmium in nearly all chocolate, dark chocolate had the highest levels of heavy metals. So, what about the health benefits of dark chocolate, like antioxidants?

“Now what I think is good is that we show you the products that violate certain health levels, but we also show you products that are safer,” said James Rogers, Consumer Reports’ director of product safety testing. “So, what we say is that if you’re going to eat dark chocolate, especially as an adult, chose those products that have less or lower levels. We also show you products that are safer. So, what we say is that if you’re going to eat dark chocolate as an adult, choose those products that have less of those heavy metals and then you can still get the health benefits of dark chocolate too.”

He says children shouldn’t eat dark chocolate at all.

In last year’s tests as well as this year’s, Consumer Reports says it found dangerously high levels of heavy metals in dark chocolate from popular brands like Hershey, Trader Joe’s, Godiva and Dove. All the milk chocolate tested was below the level considered unsafe, but Hershey’s milk chocolate bars had the highest lead level tested this year. And all the milk chocolate had some level of heavy metals. 

Consumer Reports’ experts say that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chocolate, but again, they stress we enjoy all things in moderation. They also suggests you look at the results of this year’s as well as last year’s tests and pick safer choices.