Children may be exposed to lead in excess of the daily limit when consuming large amounts of chocolate, according to researchers from Israel. They analyzed lead levels in a variety of chocolate brands available globally and, although lead concentrations were below the US Pharmacopeia limit, the levels still posed a concern.

“Children, who are big consumers of chocolates, may be at risk of exceeding the daily limit of lead due to their low body weight and higher digestive tract uptake,” they noted. “They may be vulnerable to lead exposure from these products—one cube of dark chocolate can contain up to 20 percent of the lead oral limit; furthermore, chocolate may not be the only source of lead in their nutrition thus increasing the risk of exceeding the daily limit.” The researchers recommend that children eat milk chocolate or white chocolate rather than dark chocolate, which contains the highest lead levels.

Adults are not at the same risk due to their decreased absorption of lead in the digestive tract. The researchers found that lead levels in chocolate are increased during the manufacturing process rather than being inherently high in the raw cacao bean.

Until we know more, it is best to limit our children’s chocolate consumption, especially when it comes to dark chocolate. Chocolate is best treated as, well, a treat. A small piece of chocolate on occasion can be enjoyed rather than a heaping serving. Please keep this in mind as we are nearing Valentine’s Day.