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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Dagoba Chocolate recall: Update

While I was on the road for much of the month of May, I finally got a response from Dagoba Chocolate, the Ashland-based outfit that sold several varieties of chocolate goodies that turned out to be contaminated by unsafe amounts of lead. I had purchased a bar out of one of the recalled lots, and had been eating other bars of one of the recalled varieties for some time before the contamination was announced.

I had placed calls to Dagoba and its liability insurance agent on April 5 and April 10, respectively, asking whether Dagoba was going to pay for a blood test for lead. As of April 25, the last time I blogged about this, I had gotten no response. My April 25 post noted that the half-eaten bar I had, tested out at nine times the regulatory action limit on lead in candy.

On May 12 and again on May 19, a person from Dagoba named Melissa left voice mail messages for me, saying that Dagoba would pay for a blood test for me for lead. In the second message, she noted that Dagoba's insurance company "isn't covering the test, but we [Dagoba] are." Not a very encouraging sign from anyone's standpoint, one would think.

Anyway, yesterday I got a nice e-mail from someone named Elyce Brown, who writes:

I couldn't figure out how to post this on your webpage about the Dagoba bars, but I'd love for anyone who reads your blog on that issue to know about the Josiah Hill III Clinic. We offer free blood lead tests at regular monthly clinics at two NE Portland locations and at community events, including free workshops on lead poisoning prevention (www.communityenergyproject.org for workshop info). A blood lead test mostly shows exposure which has occurred in the past 3-4 months, so the sooner you get tested the better. You can see our schedule and contact us at www.jhillclinic.org.

Any chance you could post this info? Thanks, and I have to say from a personal note, I am soooo glad and lucky to have not been eating Dagoba chocolate bars, since I was pregnant still at the time of the recall and I'm a chocolate lover who assumed that organic would mean no lead!

I see from the clinic website that they indeed have a test date that I can make, and I plan to do so. I also see from their photos that the test may involve just a pin prick on the finger, which would be nice.

Anyway, if you ate one of the recalled Dagoba products late in 2005 or early in 2006, one way or the other you shouldn't have to pay to find out how much lead you have in your blood.

Comments (5)

I also got an e-mail from Dagoba whereby the founder, in the nicest words he could find, laid a guilt trip on me for being a fellow vendor in the natural foods business who criticized Dagoba for their response to the lead issue on my blog. And then told me to call him and gave me a long distance number rather than an 800 number, as Odwalla would have done and did when they had their e-coli incident.

What I still don't understand is, why weren't they testing the cacoa before they turned it into chocolate bars?

Who knows? But if their insurance company isn't covering them, they may not be around for much longer. I suspect the class action is just around the corner.

I suspect the class action is just around the corner.

Wouldn't it be virtually impossible to prove that a product you may or may not have eaten four months ago is directly responsible for lead levels in your blood? You'd have to prove (a) that you ate it, (b) that it had lead, (c) that you ate nothing else with lead in order to win the case. Given that people have a hard enough time getting judgements against smoking companies for causing their lung cancer, I'm not exactly optimistic about your chances.

Not necessarily. I, for example, can prove (a) and (b), and I'm not sure I'd have to prove (c).

In any event, if Dagoba's insurer isn't paying for its defense, the attorney's fees alone could conceivably put it under. Plus, the bad publicity probably hasn't been good for business.

At least they've shown some signs of trying to do the right thing. Of course, I'll never eat another Dagoba anything, ever.

I have always thought that the area was kind of interesting and I wondered how those apartments got built amongst those houses. Now I know. From what I read the man just took advantage of an opportunity the government gave him. Somewhat like corporate welfare. Certainly not anything "freemarket" about that now is there, but all aided by city hall. I have to wonder who pushed to zone the area for apartments?


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» Flouride from Metroblogging Portland
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