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Tuesday, April 4, 2006

I may have been poisoned by Dagoba Chocolate

A story in the middle of yesterday morning's paper catches my eye right away. Dagoba Organic Chocolate down in Ashland is recalling a bunch of its chocolate bars and drops because there's an unsafe level of lead in them.

OMG. I love dark chocolate, the blacker and more bitter the better, and I've had my fair share of Dagoba over the last six months or so. So I read on and find that one of my favorite varieties, "Eclipse," is indeed on the recall list.

So it's over to the fridge I go -- the chocolate bars are stashed on top -- and I pull down two and a half bars while I check the lot numbers on the backs against the lots listed in the newspaper story:

The recalled products are:

Dagoba Organic Eclipse 87 percent Extra Dark, 2-ounce bar, lot codes 20061122, 20061130, 20061201, 20061206, 20061213, 20061214, 20061219, 20061227, 20070103, 20070116, 20070130, 20070213, 20070220, 20070227, 20070306 and 20070313.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios 68 percent -- Ecuador Arriba, 2-ounce bar, lot codes 20070213, 20070223 and 20070323.

Dagoba Organic Prima Materia 100 percent -- Ecuador Arriba, 2-pound brick, lot code 20070109.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios Choco Drops 68 percent -- Ecuador Arriba Nacional, 5-pound foil bag, lot code 20070222.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios 68 percent --Ecuador Arriba Nacional, 25-pound bag, lot code 310240498.

Dagoba Organic Eclipse Broken Bars Forest Grown Organic Extra Dark Chocolate, 1.5-pound bulk bags, all lot codes.

I check the two unopened, whole bars. No match. Whew. But then I take a gander at the Eclipse bar that I've already eaten half of:


So now what? My first inclinations are, of course, lawyerly ones. I would argue that I have the right to have my bar tested for its exact lead content, at Dagoba's expense. I would also argue that I have the right to have myself tested for lead, also at Dagoba's expense. We all deserve the right to know why the Dagoba folks are testing their products for lead only after they've been sold to the unsuspecting public.

Just how bad is the lead content of these products? You head on over to the recall website, and you read quite a series of non-answers.

And there'll be more to think about, no doubt. What about all the stuff I've already eaten, and thrown away the wrappers? At least my kids don't like the stuff. Lead could really harm the nervous system of the younger set.

Why do you buy a brand like Dagoba? Because it's organic. It's healthier.

Maybe not.

(Complete Dagoba Recall archives here.)

Comments (28)

So... what are you going to do?


I love Dagoba too -- dig that xocolatl. Lavender too. Oh, and the lime... OK, I'm a Dagoba ho.

Hmmm.... maybe the lead poisoning explains your recent flirtations with the dark side.

Of course, there's the most famous resident of Dagobah who had this to say...

When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmm? ... Soon will I rest. Yes, forever sleep. Earned it, I have. ... Strong am I with the Force... but not that strong! Twilight is upon me and soon night must fall. That is the way of things... the way of the Force.

I love dark chocolate, the blacker and more bitter the better

Not to my taste. But my wife, Anne? For a special treat, I stuffed her Christmas stocking with...Dagoba Bars!

It's bad enough thinking about poisoning yourself. How about poisoning your beloved? Here, darling, how about some lead for Christmas? Just last week she finished the last of the bars...can't even check the batch numbers.

What's range chickens from nuclear test sites?

your recent flirtations with the dark side.

Around City government, Kari, we consider the "dark side"...PDC.

Glad you are safe. Might not be a bad time to make sure your siblings are remembered in your will.
If you eat that chocolate, taylor ham isn't far behind. That's why God made Lipitor.

Eat enough of those babies and you might become a human sinker.

Isn't lead a natural mineral?

Speech given by Food Standards Agency Chair Sir John Krebs to the Cheltenham Science Festival:

"Now for the question 'Is organic food better for you?'

"In our view the current scientific evidence does not show that organic food is any safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.

"Nor are we alone in this assessment. For instance, the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) has recently published a comprehensive 128-page review which concludes that there is no difference in terms of food safety and nutrition.

"Also, the Swedish National Food Administration's recent research report finds no nutritional benefits of organic food.

"The Consumers' Association in its report in Which? magazine for May 2003 concludes that there is 'no consensus' on reports linking organic foods to health benefits."

That's why I buy my chocolate from a strip mine.

Full story:

Whoops. No wonder Eclipse seems so dense.

Ellie: Right there with ya.

Jack: Thanks for the tip. We'll keep the kids away from it for a while.

That's why you should just eat Hershey's, you chocolate-snobs... :-)

They mentioned on OPB this morning that the company was sending a team down to Ecuador to check the soil around the coca farms for lead content. Very interesting.

Lead is most harmful to children 0-5 years old. Test the kids if they were sharing your chocolate. You can pull up the lead paint cases on Westlaw, those will point you to the epidemiology regarding lead poisoning.

With regard to commenters taking opportunity to slam organic food, perhaps you should talk to a banana worker who has children with birth defects due to DBCP poisoning. I have talked to some in Costa Rica and I will never buy a non-organic banana again in my life. Buying Organic means alot more than health benefits to the consumer it protects the workers as well.

I don't know how to say this, but most of the lead is supposed to come from pollution in the growing regions which ends up on the cocoa plants. So, I don't know if any chocolate is safe. First, chocolate and then BBQ giving you cancer. I guess I needed to diet anyways.

The lead could come from the processing equipment, such as bean grinders and bowls. My guess is that it doesn't have anything to do with soil pollution.

Organic food can be great, especially when produced here in the good old U S of A. When you buy food from off-shore, you have no idea what you are getting.

I hope you're okay. It's a balancing act between the potential problems of lead and the known problems of anxiety.
So I hope you find out what's happened here without stressing too much.
Frankly, I was impressed that you just ate half a candy bar.
That kind of behavior is not part of my world. I have to be careful not to eat the wrapper.

The stuff is so dense, a quarter of a bar is enough for me. Plus, at $2.50 plus a pop, they encourage slow going.

I don't know how damaging half a bar of chocolate (with dangerous levels of lead) could be for yourself. Maybe you should get that checked out?

Ease your mind, kind sir. As we know, lead affects one's ability to think clearly, to organize, to plan, and memorize. The good news is that, as an entrenched law professor, you likely atrophied those skills *years* ago. ;-)

On a more-serious note: recent studies have shown that raw cocoa plants tend to have low lead, while processed cholocate has much higher levels of lead. So, the problem is likely in the processing and concentrating of the raw materials.

And back to the smart-aleck response: lead levels are measured by micrograms per deciliter of blood, if I recall correctly. The bad news is that you were ingesting lead; the good news is that you were packing on pounds at the same time. Call it a wash, you were increasing both the numerator and the denominator!

Okay, back to serious: I'm guessing you've got nothing to worry about.

"Cholocate"? Uhhh, what?

Surprise. It shouldn't be. There is already lead in a lot of candy. This just happens to exceed the threshold of 5 ppm set by the FDA. FDA is proposing to lower the threshold to 1 ppm.


Don't tell me you buy that "organic" is good crap?

If memory serves, the single largest source of of food poisoning in a study done in California alfalfa sprouts.

Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'll never know.


I love "Eclipse 87%" and have consumed a substantial amount of it over the past two years. I do appreciate your concern about the long term effect of excessive lead on children's health, or on the older and/or immune deficient consumers. Especially since I belong to the last category. As an immunosupressed transplant recipient I must be extremely careful with my diet and habits and... I thought I was. I feel rather annoyed by this turn of events.

Take care,


Why do you buy a brand like Dagoba? Because it's organic. It's healthier.

Not me! I eat Dagoba because (a) it's damn good and (b) it's local. Organic and healthy are important, yes, but local is more important.

But I do wonder just how high the lead content in these is...

If it doesn't kill you, it will only make you stronger.

Actually, most mass produced food has all sorts of un-intended yuck in it. Mouse turds, insects, etc. Most of that stuff is harmless. But lead, now that's a different story.

I remember buying a Tiger's Milk bar several years ago. I had just taken my first bite, when I noticed a little white worm crawling inside the un-eaten portion.

I took the bar straight back to the store and asked for my money back. When the clerk asked why, I pointed to the bar and its occupant. She turned whiter than the worm.

Honestly I don't think we can ever know exactly what we eat.

Well..I did the same thing..I've probably eaten over 4 boxes of Eclipse bars in the last 5 months. I have called Dagoba and they TOTALLY TOLD ME NOTHING. I asked how much over the FDA limit they were and the person said "I don't know that answer" They are not coming clean and I'm pissed. Here is the link

I've eaten half a box of bars on the list, plus some more that I can't check anymore. I'm visiting a doctor on Monday hoping to get a blood test. I'll report my results here, and I encourage others to do the same. If those of use who get those tests post the results we'll get an idea of how serious the problem is even if Dagoba doesn't tell us.

I have 2 cartons of Dagoba chocolate ready to be returned to I think Dagoba co. was fair in reporting and will follow through with information.
The organic vs non-organic story is over three years old if you look up the information in the URL. It's time for a new, honest report.
hard to get honesty these days.
Let's hope that the lead content will x itself out by the good it does emtionally and physically (high in anti-oxidants)


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