Researchers map cadmium in cacao: “The problem isn’t as bad as we thought”
In 2019, a wind of uncertainty was rustling through the thick green leaves of cacao trees from Venezuela to Peru. After 4 years, the European Union had implemented limits on cadmium—a toxic heavy-metal— in chocolate and cacao. Although the limits are set in the final product, preliminary data suggested that chocolate produced from Latin American beans was higher in cadmium than in other parts of the world. For many countries in the region, cacao is an export crop, produced by hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers living in difficult economic situations. With the biggest market being the EU, these limits put an additional worry on the cacao value chain with possible implications not only for sellers, but also on the livelihoods of farmers.
However, although it was becoming obvious that the problem did not affect the whole of the cacao growing region in Latin America, it was not clear which regions were the worst affected or what the cause was.