Here at Soul Lift Cacao we have all of our cacao varieties tested for heavy metals by a third party laboratory.
These are natural substances that in large amounts and frequencies can cause or contribute to significant health issues.
We’re proud to say that all our cacao varieties fall generally in the parts per million (ppm) ranges advised by the FDA for lead and the EU Commission for cadmium.
However since we ship to California, we also have to abide by the Proposition 65 rules that govern customers there.
Interestingly, the 2017 lawsuit that led to the creation of Proposition 65 actually ruled on limits that were higher than the FDA and EU Commission advisories (known as the "interim levels"). And these are the standards we are most comfortable following in terms of whether we decide to bring a cacao variety onto the line-up.
But the Prop 65 system that resulted appears to be the strictest in the world. Instead of ppm, CA advises based on amount per day using the terms Maximum Allowable Dose Levels (MADL) and No Significant Rise Level (NSRL).
Heavy metals come from the natural environment, and it's a little known fact that many foods have trace amounts heavy metals.
California's regulations on lead and cadmium are not specific to chocolate and cacao.
Recently there has been a spike in concern about heavy metals in chocolate specifically. We wrote a long report about that to help put it in perspective.
There's actually not much variation in the numbers for chocolate or cacao, even if it is certified organic or grown with similar sustainability practices.
What's most important to look at serving size and frequency.
Even if a product has 200% the daily Prop 65 limit it means, under that system, having a serving every other day could be considered totally safe.
At this time the main area of concern seems to be during pregnancy. That's because the MADL levels are specifically advisories about reproductive harm.
It's notable that the amounts we've seen in the testing do not pose a concern for cancer (what the NSRL advisories refer to).
We also believe that most people enjoy cacao and chocolate in such moderate amounts that this would never be an issue for them.
Still, since transparency is one of our core values, we apply the required Prop 65 warning label even if the test amount was a fraction of a microgram over the daily limit. (A microgram is 1/1,000,000 of a gram.)
We disagree with chocolate companies choosing to ignore this issue altogether. We have also seen some other cacao brands “cooking the books” to avoid the required labeling even though their published heavy metal content is in violation of the Prop 65 limits.
We prepared the table below to take our commitment to transparency even further.
Soon we will have the numbers for our drinking chocolates as well.
You can also find our references and more detail on the longer report!
Note #1: If you'd prefer to buy a product that doesn't have a Prop 65 warning, then we suggest Lavalove Cacao.
Note #2: La Noche is a new cacao project. We're working with the Mayan artisans to refine their production methods, which will likely bring the numbers down slightly. In the meantime it's still fine to enjoy in moderation.