Chocolate bunnies are a staple candy for Easter, but you might want to fill your children's baskets with other options. A health watchdog group released a list of chocolates that contain dangerous heavy metals like lead and cadmium that includes items from many popular brands.

The San Francisco-based consumer group As You Sow tested approximately 50 different types of chocolate, finding that 35 tested positive for unsafe levels of either lead, cadmium or both, based on strict California state standards.

The brands of chocolate featured on the list include Hershey's, Cadbury, Lindt, Godiva and Mars, which are all popular brands consumers pick up as their Easter candy. Even chocolates from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods were also found to contain the heavy metals.

As You Sow filed notices with 18 manufacturers whose products were found to have high levels of lead and/or cadmium, and warned the public about the potential health effects.

"Lead exposure is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and decreased IQ, even at very low levels. In fact, there is no safe level of lead for children," As You Sow's Eleanne van Vliet said in a press statement.

Consuming low levels of cadmium can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, as well as cause bone damage over time. Children are at a higher risk.

Animal studies have also found that cadmium caused harm to the male reproductive system and neurobehavioral problems.

Manufacturers believe that small traces of lead as a naturally occurring element could be absorbed by the cacao plant as the chocolate is being made, and that their products are safe. However, it seems alarming that some popular chocolate candy brands could potentially be poisoning consumers with unsafe levels.

Although the exact amount of lead and cadmium wasn't revealed, the health watchdog group did release a list of the manufacturers, their specific product, the metal found, and if a warning was required. A few of these cases include chocolate bunnies and eggs such as Dove Eggs Dark Chocolate Silky Smooth, Cadbury Mini Eggs Royal Dark Chocolate With A Crisp Sugar Shell, and Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Hand-Painted Calico Bunny.

This Easter, you might just want to stick with Peeps.

Source: As You Sow

Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr

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