Chocolate Lead Contamination Update

Ever savor a sweet ending to a customer service adventure? See how this strikes you. We TreeHuggers have been big fans of Dagoba. We aren't the only ones: beloved chocolate expert David Lebovitz today features a fun interview with founder Frederick Schilling about what it means to be an organic pioneer in the delicious but fickle world. Last April we let you know about Dagoba's lead-fueled recall. I was eating the likely contaminated stuff in typical fiendish fashion around the time a toxic metals test showed that I could morph into a pipe without much effort even without a Wonder Twin asking me to. Chocolate seemed the most likely source of my metallic woes. So, how did one of our favorite companies respond when I asked it to compensate me for lead-removing chelations?Though I definitely had to jump through hoops and wait long intervals between responses, in the end Dagoba agreed to reimburse me for the cost of the treatments I was able to receive before leaving for lead-saturated Russia. In order to receive around $400, I provided a copy of my metals test and receipts from my doctor visits. A Dagoba representative then contacted my physician to confirm that the intravenous treatments for which I requested reimbursement were for lead rather than mercury. I asked to be compensated for my time researching the issue, going to appointments, etc., but no dice.

My reimbursement included the three chelations I received before departing (as well as an oral chelating agent) because in Russia leaded gasoline is still widely used, and any post-trip chelations would have likely been removing Russian lead as well as chocolate lead. Under other circumstances, Dagoba would have been responsible for a long course of intravenous fun fests. It's not yet clear how many I will need to undergo.

On the one hand, it seems fairly clear that a company's negligence put me at risk and $400 seems like measly recompense. On the other, it's understandable that at a small cooperative in a cacao-growing region an accidental exposure could occur. After all, I'm fortunate to live in a country where leaded gasoline has been phased out, and to be among a privileged population that (for the most part) doesn't have to worry about paint chips. While I didn't have to join a class action suit or challenge Dagoba on my own, I was lucky in that the test had been performed just after I ate the bulk of the chocolate and my evidence was strong. Also, I write for TreeHugger! With luck, non-bloggers' concerns have been met with the same level of responsiveness.

With the good tasting fair trade and organic chocolate selection remaining fairly thin, I'm still eating my fave Dagoba bars. What do you think? How chalky or robust you find its response? And, again, read David's interview for a well-rounded Dagoba perspective. ::