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Monday, March 4, 2024
HomeBody Building SupplementsProp 65 and the Fear of Chocolate - Off Topic - COMMUNITY

Prop 65 and the Fear of Chocolate – Off Topic – COMMUNITY

Should we really worry about heavy metals?

California’s Proposition 65 wants to keep us safe, but is it instead instilling unnecessary fear and hurting businesses? Get the facts here.

Scared of your chocolate…and everything else

You may have seen the recent news story from Consumer Reports about elevated levels of lead and cadmium in samples of various popular dark chocolate brands.

Sounds scary, right? Unfortunately, these types of reports are designed to instill fear and intimidation in readers, convincing them that they’d better keep subscribing lest they miss the next warning.

the truth? Heavy metals like cadmium and lead are all around us and hard to avoid if you want to live on earth. Even areas you might consider pristine, like Mount Everest, are so polluted with heavy metals that you don’t want to drink melted snow (1).

Furthermore, the analysis of dark chocolate used California’s Proposition 65 (i.e., specifically the Maximum Allowable Dose Level or MADL) as its guide for determining whether levels present were of concern, rather than nationally or internationally accepted reference intakes ( 1, 2).

For those unfamiliar with it, Proposition 65, while laudable in some respects, sometimes has unrealistic expectations of various exposure limits and safe intake levels for potentially harmful compounds (3). It is not uncommon for food and other items to contain Proposition 65 warnings so their manufacturers can sell the item in California while avoiding prosecution for non-disclosure.

You may wonder why products sold outside of California have these same warnings. For most manufacturers, it’s simply because it’s easier to have a uniform label than just designate one for the state of California.

Is Proposition 65 entirely foolhardy?

In some cases, Proposition 65 has resulted in significant reductions in the levels of certain potentially harmful chemicals. However, in some cases, there is nothing a particular manufacturer can do to reduce the levels of certain chemicals. (In some cases this may not be possible at all, in others it may be difficult due to time and cost.)

In addition, the proposed MADL sources define unclear endpoints; are much more conservative than practicable; or are not supported by substantial quality evidence. By relying specifically on the Proposition 65 numbers for these metals, you can virtually guarantee that you will get some samples that are outside their defined MADL.

It’s not uncommon to find warnings in parking lots, amusement parks, gyms, and even coffee shops (due to the presence of acrylamide in coffee; levels of acrylamide are so harmless that the state of California only recently directed coffee shops to ignore it) (1,2). There is such a long list of food and consumer products with these warning labels that most consumers probably don’t find them helpful.

Regardless, if Proposition 65 is used as a guide for food intake and life in general, you’ll have quite a few things to avoid. In fact, with respect to the daily intake limits for lead and cadmium, the background levels (ie, the levels consumed by the average person) already exceed the MADL under Proposition 65(2). Feel free to issue Prop 65 warnings to yourself!

What about “healthy” foods?

Conversely, the foods that likely contributed the most to these heavy metals were sunflower seeds, peanuts, soybeans, shellfish, green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, and kale), and potatoes (6-10). However, almost any fruit or vegetable contains at least some level of these metals. They are ubiquitous in our environment. As expected, the average cadmium intake of vegetarians was almost three times that of non-vegetarians (11).

Based on average concentrations reported by authorities, a 30-gram serving of raw spinach (or 40 grams cooked) exceeds the MADL set by Proposition 65 for cadmium. How about a regular baked potato? identical.

I hope you’re not going to eat a 3.5 oz serving of boiled shrimp. This exceeds the MADL for lead. How about some quinoa? I wish it was less than an ounce. Do you like peanut butter? Ok, but no more than 6 tbsp, not good if you’re a glutton like me.

How about splurging on a plain milk chocolate candy? You may be over the limit. Shredded wheat for breakfast? OK, but if you eat 2 servings, you may exceed the cadmium limit. Do you like sunflower seeds? A small cup of about 30 grams can be enough to push you over your limit (6,7,10,11).

More seriously, instead of avoiding foods, including other healthy ones, remember the following:

  1. Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Try to eat a mixed diet and avoid eating large amounts of the same foods every day.
  3. Even if food is high in lead or cadmium, this is only one factor that ultimately determines the final levels in blood and tissues (8,12).
  4. eat garlic. It appears to protect against oxidative damage to lead, cadmium, and other metals. The evidence is not very strong, but if you already like garlic, go ahead and enjoy it (7).
  5. eat dinner instead fasting (14).
  6. Regarding lead and cadmium, make sure you’re getting enough iron, zinc, calcium, copper, vitamin C, and protein. They may help reduce systemic burden, or in some cases, lessen the adverse effects of these metals (11,13,14).
  7. Consider sweating more, whether through exercise or a sauna. This may help reduce levels of certain heavy metals.

refer to

refer to

  1. Balali-Mood M, Naseri K, Tahergorabi Z, Khazdair MR, Sadeghi M. Toxicity mechanisms of five heavy metals: mercury, lead, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic. Prepharmacology. 2021 Apr 13;12:643972. Department of the Interior: 10.3389/fphar.2021.643972. PMID: 33927623; PMCID: PMC8078867.
  2. Wong C, Roberts SM, Saab IN. Review of regulatory reference values ​​and background levels of heavy metals in the human diet. Regul Toxicol Pharmacodynamics. 2022 Apr;130:105122. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2022.105122. Epub January 26, 2022. PMID: 35090957.
  3. Proposition 65.
  4. Proposition 65 Frequently Asked Questions.
  5. Hick TJ. Proposition 65: Why California Coffee May Carry Cancer Warnings, 30 Loy. Consumer L. Rev. 474 (2018). Available at: “Proposition 65: Why California Coffee May Carry Cancer Warnings,” by Thomas JK Schick
  6. Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2012. Toxicological profile of cadmium. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
  7. Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2020. Toxicological profile of lead. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
  8. McLaughin MJ, Parker DR, CLARK J. Metals and micronutrients – a food safety issue. Field crops. reservoir. 1999;60:143-63.
  9. Adams SV, Newcomb PA, Shafer MM, Atkinson C, Bowles EJ, Newton KM, Lampe JW. Sources of cadmium exposure in healthy premenopausal women. Science comprehensive environment. 2011 Apr 1;409(9):1632-7. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.01.037. Electronic version 17 February 2011. PMID: 21333327; PMCID: PMC3056571.
  10. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Total Diet Study Report, 2018-2020. July 2022.
  11. Schaefer HR, Dennis S, Fitzpatrick S. Cadmium: Mitigation strategies to reduce dietary exposure. J Food Sci. 2020 Feb;85(2):260-267. Department of the Interior: 10.1111/1750-3841.14997. Epub Jan 20, 2020. PMID: 31957884; PMCID: PMC7027482.
  12. Wang MY, Li MY, Ning H, Xue RY, Liang JH, Wang N, Luo XS, Li G, Juhasz AL, Ma LQ, Li HB. Oral bioavailability of cadmium is affected by calcium and phytate content in food : Evidence from leafy vegetables in mice. J Hazard Mater. 2022 Feb 15;424(Pt A):127373. Ministry of the Interior: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127373. Epub September 28, 2021. PMID: 34879567.
  13. Sachdeva C, Thakur K, Sharma A, Sharma KK. Lead: A tiny but powerful poison. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2018 Apr;33(2):132-146. Department of the Interior: 10.1007/s12291-017-0680-3. Epub Jul 18, 2017. PMID: 29651203; PMCID: PMC5891462.
  14. Peraza MA, Ayala-Fierro F, Barber DS, Casarez E, Rael LT. Effects of micronutrients on metal toxicity. Environmental health perspective. 1998 Feb;106 Suppl 1 (Suppl 1):203-16. Home Office: 10.1289/ehp.98106s1203. PMID: 9539014; PMCID: PMC1533267.


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