Candies and chocolates are associated with joy and pleasure, potentially being stimulant, relaxant, and antidepressant, but very few would know that these sweet candies have heavy metal content as well. A study published in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Journal reveals how children are vulnerable to heavy metal contamination through consumption of candies and chocolates.
The study further finds that cocoa-based candies have higher metal content than milk or sugar-based candies.
The study ‘Heavy metal content in various types of candies and their daily dietary intake by children’ has been jointly conducted by Parmila Devi, Vandana Bajala and VK Garg from Guru Jambheshwar University of Science of Technology, Hisar, Suman Mor from Panjab University and Dr Ravindra Khaiwal from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
A total of 69 candy and chocolate samples were brought from grocery shops located near different schools of Hisar district, Haryana. These were analysed for five heavy metal contentslead, cadmium, nickel, zinc, and copper — and were divided into three categories — sugarbased samples (26), milk-based samples (21), and cocoa based samples (22).
The average concentration of zinc, lead, nickel, and cadmium in the samples was found 2.52 ± 2.49, 2.0 ± 1.20, 0.84 ± 1.35, and 0.17 ± 0.22 µg/g, respectively. However, the copper content, in most samples, was found below the detection limit.
“The result indicates the concentrations of the studied metals were highest in the cocoa-based candies and chocolates followed by milk and sugar-based candies and chocolates. The highest concentration of lead was also observed in milk-based candies and chocolates,”the study concluded.
Dr Ravindra Khaiwal said, “The comparison of the current study with other studies around the globe showed that the heavy metal content in candies and chocolates is lower in India than reported elsewhere. However, to reduce the further dietary exposure of heavy metals through candies and chocolates, their content should be monitored regularly and particularly for lead as children are highly susceptible to its toxicity.”
When asked about the reasons behind the higher concentration of metals in candies and chocolates, Dr Khaiwal said, “It may be due to unsafe storage conditions or raw materials such as cocoa beans, cocoa solids, cocoa butter, etc. Utensils used during the preparation of candies and chocolates may also cause metal contamination.”