I wanted to share the story below as a reminder to folks that we all do our best as parents, and still things like this slip by. We should never panic. We cannot go back in time; we can only move forward – and re-presence ourselves and our family to the science (and continually-evolving dataset) behind the concern — using science to illuminate the path forward. I still plan on writing a point-by-point response to Hu’s greenwashed response to customers (you can read their response here) — but now it’s going to be a whole lot more personal (and likely a bit um, emotionally-tinged!). Stand by for that.
Photo below is my two youngest sons, one month ago
(November 17, 2022)
Avi (17) on left, Charlie (14) on right
Saturday – December 17, 2022
As I was preparing to write a response to HU’s greenwashed public statements – dismissively downplaying the Consumer Reports (December 2022) findings of significant amounts of Lead in their dark chocolate products – I had a horrific epiphany…
I had originally thought that I had personally never seen / never heard of this brand, until the other day- when the Consumer Reports article came out [since I don’t buy much chocolate] — and I imagined (rather confidently), that I had certainly never eaten anything from this brand!
…but then (late last night) I realized I might be wrong in that assumption…
The day I got home (10 days ago – December 7, 2022) – after having been on the road for nearly two months – my husband had presented me with a little (half-eaten) bag of chocolate “gems”. He shared that they were from this “amazing new brand he had discovered”, and were marketed as being super-clean, and checking all of the right boxes for our family (dairy-free; cane-sugar-free; sustainably-sourced; etc.).
So I had a small handful…and then another. Between the four of us, what was left of this bag was gone in a flash, and the next day my husband bought a second, larger bag – which [in spite of my efforts to hide it from the kids – to limit chocolate consumption – as I always do] was also discovered by the kids (do your kids go through your dresser drawers without permission too?) and shared with the whole family, and quickly “disappeared”! It was only finally last night – right before I went to bed – that I connected the dots — and realized (with a pained sigh and deeply-furrowed brow) that it was the brand “HU Kitchen” — and not only this brand, but it was dark chocolate from this brand. Damn.
My son Avi (#3 of four sons) was acutely Lead-poisoned as a 7-month-old, and has the double MTHFR gene mutation, to boot [as discovered with testing done by his western-medicine-focused sharp & thorough mainstream pediatrician – so not just some “woo” assumption]! Consequently, we have always been very careful about Avi’s diet. [He has self-selected an exceptionally nutritious, clean & simple plant-based diet, and is inspiringly consistently very thoughtful & intentional about everything he chooses to put into his body!]
He turned 17 almost a year ago (his birthday is January 29th), and for his birthday I got him a credit card. It’s the main credit card for the family (not his own account), but I got him one to have in his wallet for his own use, with his name on it — so that he could be a little more independent, be able to purchase food for himself — especially when he was gone for long days at school (at PSU), and might need to get a quick lunch or dinner at one of the amazing food carts downtown (we have so many with delicious, organic, vegan food choices… because…Portland!)
For the past 6 months he hasn’t been in school (first it was summer break, and then we had our big trip out of town planned for October / November/ December), so recently he has been mostly using the card every now and then to buy himself (and his brother) groceries at our neighborhood natural foods store, whenever I ask him to. [This is a task I have assigned to him to help me better focus on work these past six months — and as a bonus, the walk of a few blocks to the store is a great little regular social interactions/independence/confidence-building exercise for him & his bother!]
Avi is vegan, and also generally shuns processed foods – and eats no cane sugar – and I give him the leeway to choose what he wants among the wide array of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other healthy natural food products (including some few select packaged/processed items) there that are organic, and meet our other “healthy” standards (based on what I have taught him) — but I don’t analyze or censor every single thing he buys. Said another way: I let him choose his own occasional treats.
So last night, when after my concerned realization, I asked if he had ever eaten any HU chocolate other than the 2 little bags of “gems” that Dad shared with us when we got home from our trip, I was surprised when he said, “Yes — I have bought maybe 5 or 6 of their [full-size] dark chocolate bars over the past 6 months.”!
I explained that he should never do this again, and that we are not going to be eating any of their products – even occasionally. [Dad apparently knew about these purchases, and had just assumed it was “fine” — having been taken in by HU Kitchen’s highly-appealing packaging & marketing!] but it had flown under my radar somehow, because I have been so busy!)
Last night Avi anxiously asked me, “am I now Lead-poisoned again“— do I need to go to the doctor to get tested?”! My immediate reaction [ this was around 11 p.m. last night!] was (in part since we had just gotten back from Europe where we ate very clean the entire time) no, he didn’t need to go to the doctor over this — but it wouldn’t hurt to increase dietary garlic consumption (in whatever form we can get it in him) and also increase organic fresh green juice consumption, while of course, continuing to eat healthy every day, as we normally do (in addition to going back to being a little more strict about avoiding chocolate — and especially avoiding dark chocolate, like Mommy normally does!)
For those new to this website:
- Here’s my article about garlic – with links to the science behind Garlic as a good (medically proven) detox agent for heavy metals
- Here’s my article about not panicking in situations like this too.
- Here’s my piece with the graphic summarizing the chocolates tested by Consumer Reports (all 28 were found to be positive for Lead and Cadmium.)
- Here’s a link to the piece I wrote in 2013 about the issue of Lead in Chocolate.
- Here’s Hu’s response to the findings of high levels of Lead in their chocolate.
- Here’s a private preview screener link to my film – which has a scene about Lead-contamination in chocolate that I shot in February of 2012.
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
Owner – Lead Safe Mama, LLC
More background for those new here:
Tamara Rubin is a Federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. Tamara’s sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in August of 2005. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. This year , her work was also responsible for three CPSC product recalls — the Jumping Jumperoo recall (June, 2022); the Lead painted NUK baby bottle recall (July, 2022); and the Leaded Green Sprouts Insulated Stainless Steel Baby Bottles (November, 2022) — and she was recently featured in an NPR story about Lead in consumer goods (August, 2022); The Guardian (December, 2022); and an upcoming article in Consumer Reports (December, 2022). Tamara uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times, to confirm the test results for each component tested and reported on. Please click through to this link to learn more about the testing methodology used for the test results discussed and reported on this website.