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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

What Dagoba Chocolate won't tell you

Dagoba Organic Chocolate in Ashland is refusing to reveal the results of tests that they say show unsafe levels of lead in some of their chocolate bars. There's an article about this in today's Oregonian, and a call I placed to the company today confirm that Dagoba will not voluntarily release the test results. According to two company employees with whom I spoke today, the "results are so varied" that the company doesn't feel it's appropriate to post them.

Perhaps a lawsuit and a subpoena would help them see the light. But in the meantime, they suggest that if you ate one of the recalled products, you see your doctor. Will they pay for that doctor visit, a test for lead, and whatever followup is needed? So far, another no-answer. For that, they refer us to their liability insurer. More on that shortly.

A complete list of the recalled product lots is posted here. What you're supposed to do if you ate one of these products and foolishly threw away the wrapper is anyone's guess.

Comments (16)

It might pay to ask them what the *maximum* lead concentration in tested finished product was. Hopefully that level is sufficiently low for most people to rule out any serious health consequences.

The only dates of affected products that worry me are these:

20061122 === 11/22-11/30/05
20061130 === 11/30-12/01/05
20061201 === 12/01-12/06/05
20061206 === 12/06-12/13/05
20061213 === 12/13-12/19/05
20061214 === 12/14-12/19/05

Those dates mean that the affected chocolate was probably sold during the busy Christmas season. I was given, and I gave, bars of Dagoba for Christmas--am I supposed to send an email to everyone I gave a bar to and say "uh, yeah, remember that awesome chocolate I gave you? It might have filled your body with lead...sorry."

They won't even reveal a range?

From a customer service standpoint, this does not sound promising. How disappointing! I love Dagoba. Fabulous organic, kosher, Oregon made product and now this...

(Dare I reveal that, masochistic chocoholic that I am, I bought a bar of "xocolatl" today?)

Dave, I hear ya. I gave Dagoba over the holidays too. I'm not particularly fond of my family but I don't want to poison them either.

I imagine they would give this information to people who may have been exposed. I think this begs the question: for what purpose do you want to know the levels? Is it just "the public's right to know"? Or is there an actual purpose? What benefit comes from the information being publicly released?

I called them too as I consumed something like 4 boxes over a 4 month period..I also gave them away to friends...They would not even respond to my questions...where do we complain about this?



I got to thinking about this, and I'm guessing it's not Really Bad.

For starters, there's this from the recall FAQ:
"Q: What are the levels of lead in the recalled products?

A: The initial certificates of analysis on the cocoa used in the recalled products showed acceptable trace amounts of lead which were below FDA guidelines. Our follow-up testing found lead levels above FDA guidelines. Given this discrepancy, we are recalling all of the product lots in question because our number one priority is the safety of our customers."

So this could be a purely a testing error, although that seems like an excessively optimistic thing to hope for.

They say the cocoa itself is what was contaminated. I see that this recall is affecting products at the high-cocoa-percentage end of their product line. The lowest ones they make are 37% cocoa, and the lowest recalled ones are 68%. If (and it's a big if) they used the same cocoa supply in some lower-cocoa content bars, and those bars passed testing, we can take a reasonable guess at the maximum levels in the recalled ones. If the supply was the same and the 37% bars just barely passed the 5ppm standard, the recalled ones would be no more than about 12ppm.

Sadly, I have no idea if those assumptions are valid. [shrug]

We're going to have the kids tested, I think. If there's a problem, we'll sic the pediatrician on 'em. I'm confident she will get some answers, or break someone trying. :-)

Dave, I hear ya. I gave Dagoba over the holidays too. I'm not particularly fond of my family but I don't want to poison them either.

I wasn't kidding, when I said in the other thread, that I gave a stocking full of the dark chocalate bars to my wife for Xmas. They were on sale, at our New Seasons.

I think Dagoba is making a HUGE public relations mistake in not releasing every bit of data they have. And let the chips --chocolate or otherwise-- fall where they will.

Our doc has reviewed the public data, and says that this is probably not a big deal. Apparently occasional exposure to low levels of lead is not a big deal, even for little kids; only long-term exposures are of serious concern.

We'll keep watching and see what they have to say, but it sounds like we can all just chill out a bit on this. Unless you've eaten a huge amount of the recalled bars, this looks like a tempest in a fondue pot.

It is sorta bad, depends on the dosage, and makes the difference between eating it every day for ten years or for fifty years to get dull-headed.

In a way, it is too much attention to one example, if default thinking thinks that means other chocolate does not have lead. Ha. Better check it.

Even that, though, (lead in chocolate), is nothing. Wait'll some kids who are ten today start getting brain spongiform (mad cow disease symptom) in another ten years. And we ain't begun to have seen all the horrific losses that can be expected before the genetic modified food fad plays out All of this is like locking the barn door after the horses were stolen.

This whole thing that "scientists sez" whatever is in the paper is supposed to be the way it is -- "scientists sez changing food DNA is OK" -- is megatonnage nightmarish. It all got started (my theory) at the A-bomb, when "scientists sez" became gospel, or imprimatur, since (for the first time ever, along with relativity and the quantum) nobody understood what scientists were sezzing but they just wiped two Japanese cities off the face of the earth in a morning, so, you know, whatever they "sez" they must know what they are doing, so, everybody back to work. Just saying ....

The shamefullest guilt greater than what "scientists sez" in the paper all giving people thoughts of a false sense of security in their individual stupidity rights, ... wait for it ... worse is what "scientists sez" that is not in the paper, and why not, giving people no thoughts at all, like they could understand science or something, (which of course, 'they' meaning 'we' can). Then it hits us: Repercussions.

Meanwhile, twenty years later, the bad chocolate seller and the infected beef seller and the sterile and de-vitaminized food seller, are all got your money and gone. So sue. From your hospice bed.

And the nuclear energy monger has got you on life support, as long as your being around can be exploited. Kinda like Homer Simpson, if you would call a cartoon existence 'life'.

Well, like scientists sez: Those who can't do science, are specimen.

A negative news report from a big media outlet can destroy a small company like this. Get this information in front of someone like John Stossel and watch the fireworks.

Call in to Clark Howard.

Send a few bars to the editor of the Oregonian. Then, a week later, tell him about the lead.

I don't want to destroy these people's business. But I ate some of the cr*p they've been selling, and I think I have a right to know how bad the situation is before I head off to my doctor.

And they had better pay for my medical care. And for testing of the half-eaten bar that I still have. If that puts them out of business, too bad.

www OneWorld net - Hershey Shareholders to Vote on Human Rights Groupís Resolution Requesting a Report on the Companyís Cocoa Supply

Global Exchange is concerned about the rampant use of illegal child labor on cocoa farms

Global Exchange - April 03, 2006
CONTACT: Andrea Buffa 415-575-5552

San Francisco, CA -- On Tuesday, April 18, at the Hershey Company's annual general meeting, shareholders will consider a resolution calling on Hershey's management to report on all the company's cocoa supply sources. The resolution, which was introduced by the human rights group Global Exchange, aims to determine whether Hershey is purchasing cocoa from Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Nestle, all of which are being sued for purchasing cocoa from farms that use ...

Dagoba Chocolates, future possible ad campaigns
"Leaded or Unleaded?"
"Dagoba Chocolates, to die for."
"Drop Dead Chocolate, Dagoba"
"Eat Lead! Dagoba!"
"Eat Dagoba, not only is it better then sex, it's more dangerous!"
"Hey who got rat poison in my Chocolate! Hey who got Chocolate in my Rat Poison!"

Just one more, "Dagoba, we may be unable to turn lead in to gold, but we sure can turn it in to chocolate!"

A negative news report from a big media outlet can destroy a small company like this. Get this information in front of someone like John Stossel and watch the fireworks.

Yeah, I'm sure Stossel will go in with the guns a blazin', since no company that size would have a prayer of shovelling any pwecious advertising $$$ to preserver his bully-with-a-capital-"B" pulpit. Think he'd do the same to Hershey or Nestle if they were caught selling contaminated food ? Yeah, right. I'm sure he'd be on it right after the big red Macaws showed up to dine at my front yard bird feeder...

Hell, you wanna' verbally horsewhip Dagoba for not releasing what they know ? Go for it. But there's no need to be such a spiteful jaggoff about it.

After their reply to your letter in the post above, do you still not want to destroy them?

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