There is a growing awareness among consumers regarding food safety and food quality in India and especially parents are concerned regarding the health of their kids.
However there are alarming reports from food testing agencies that apart from high sugar content, chocolates could be toxic as well.
India’s food regulator FSSAI, is setting up an experts’ panel which will look into reports of toxicity in chocolates and confectionary.
Indian Chocolates flouting 5% vegetable fat content norm
Many Indian chocolate and confectionary brands in India contain a high level of vegetable fat which is in excess of the global norm of 5%, manufacturers manage to flout these norms by not declaring the product as ‘chocolate’.
Government agencies say that many of the ‘chocolate’ bars in the market have as much as 20% vegetable fat, including a popular foreign brand.
Vegetable fat is commonly used as a term to denote hydrogenated fat which is toxic and a cause of heart disease and cancer. Some cities like New York have banned the use of hydrogenated fat by restaurants.
Presence of heavy metals in chocolates
In a study published in a journal of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center determined Nickel, lead and cadmium contents in 69 different brands of chocolates and candies available in India.The majority of these chocolates and candies are made mainly from cocoa, milk solids, dry fruits, fruit flavours and sugar. Cadmium level ranged from 0.001 to 2.73 mg/g with an average of 0.105 mg/g. Nickel ranged from 0.041 to 8.29 mg/g with an average of 1.63 mg/g and lead level ranged from 0.049 to 8.04 mg/g with an average of 0.93 mg/g.
Cocoa-based chocolates are found to have higher contents of the analysed heavy metals than milk-based chocolates, fruit flavour- or sugar-based candies.
Lead is a neurotoxin, posing extreme risk to children’s brain development, among other things. Experts consider lead so dangerous that there is no safe limit for children.
Cadmium is also known to cause kidney and liver damage. Toxicology studies have shown the metal can accumulate in bones, weakening them.
Chocolate making companies blame the local raw materials, manufacturing process and environment of the place on the findings of heavy metals in chocolates.
We at foodnetindia advise caution and advise parents to ensure that their children eat chocolate only in very small and restricted quantities. And even so, to only buy chocolates of brands that have top of the line standards and testing facilities.