Prop 65 - Cacao
Cacao has been an important food in South America for thousands of years. Chocolate, cocoa, and cacao including Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder, Nibs, Butter, and Paste are all derived from cacao beans, which are seeds found in the fruit pods of the cacao tree. The cacao tree’s official botanical name, Theobroma Cacao literally means 'food of the Gods.'
A Peruvian Treasure
Navitas Naturals sources the highest quality, nutrient dense, organic cacao we can find. Navitas Naturals variety of cacao is directly sourced from organic farms in Peru and is known as Criollo, which means ‘native variety’. Although known for its superiority in flavor and nutritional density, Criollo plantations are dwindling due to the plants yield of smaller, softer fruit pods. Navitas Naturals contributes to sustaining this ancient variety by sourcing our cacao from one of the few countries that still grows it in its native environment.
Often times we are asked about the difference between traditional cocoa and Navitas Naturals Cacao, are they the same?
The terms cocoa powder and cacao powder are synonymous and both represent a dried, powdered product that results from pressing the cacao beans and separating the oil or cacao butter from the fibrous plant matter. Cocoa (‘co-coa’) is the conventional, English version of the word cacao (‘ca-cao’).
Furthermore, when a finished good is described as ‘cocoa’, it is likely that the product has been roasted and/or Dutch processed, or treated with an alkalizing agent to manipulate its pH and therefore its taste, color and nutritional value. The roasting process and the Dutch process change the biochemistry of the natural bean. Exposure to high heat is destructive to many vitamins and vital nutrients including antioxidants.
Navitas Naturals’ Cacao is minimally processed to preserve the nutritional attributes of this ancient food. Cacao is one of the highest known food sources of magnesium, chromium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, all of which are commonly deficient minerals in the Western diet. Cacao is also one of the highest sources of flavanols and polyphenols, which are antioxidants known to protect our bodies and enhance our health and wellbeing.
More Questions about Cacao:
Why is there a California Prop 65 warning label on the packaging of your Cacao products?
In order to inform our customers we have begun labeling our California packaging for organic Cacao Beans, organic Cacao Powder, organic Cacao Nibs and organic Cacao Sweet Nibs with a California Proposition 65 warning. California Proposition 65 is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Companies are required to place a warning label on any product being sold within the state of California that exceeds levels the State has established. These standards are specific to the state of California and are more stringent than what is required at the U.S. federal level, and by other governments including Canada and the European Food Safety Authority. Under California Proposition 65, the State of California has determined that a warning is necessary for Cadmium in a product if its use would result in more than 1/1,000 (one one-thousandth) the level of exposure that has an observable effect on reproductive toxicity. The levels of Cadmium in our products are well below a level that has been shown to have any adverse health consequence.
Should I be concerned about cadmium in my diet?
The amount of cadmium in foods is generally low. In the United States, people typically eat 2.5 micrograms of cadmium per kilogram of their body weight per week. The EU recommended daily limit is 2.5 micrograms per kg body weight per week which for a 150 pound person translates to 170 micrograms per week or 24 micrograms per day. One serving of our Organic Cacao Powder was well below the current EU daily limit for an average sized adult. Many foods have trace levels of cadmium, including meats, grains (especially rice), vegetables (especially leafy greens) and sunflower seeds. The Children’s Food Project report of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found cadmium in 57% of the foods tested. The highest level of cadmium was found in breakfast cereal at .284 ppm. Ninety-seven percent of the nut-based products contained cadmium with an average of 0.053 ppm. Health Canada did not consider that any of the tested foods represented a concern to human health with respect to the cadmium levels. If you are concerned about your cadmium levels, see your health care provider.
Why does your product have more cadmium than other brands?
Our Cacao is grown in Peru where there is a higher level of volcanic ash content in the soil, which makes the product especially nutrient rich and may also cause higher levels of some naturally occurring elements, like Cadmium. Cadmium can also result from man-made sources like fertilizers, but fortunately our organic products are not grown with artificial fertilizers.
Based on our review, the levels of Cadmium in our products are consistent with many others in the marketplace, including organic sources. We will be working collectively with other brands that produce similar products as well as our suppliers to better understand this issue and to seek alternative sources.
What are you doing to address the issue?
We are working with our farming suppliers to identify sources of the crop with lower levels of cadmium so that we can provide the most nutritious product. We are diligently continuing to learn about cadmium so that we can provide our customers with current, accurate information as we continue to monitor the issue.
What kind of food safety program does Navitas Naturals implement?
We focus on having the best tools and systems in place to ensure quality, safety and consistency for each of the products we produce. We're pleased to demonstrate our commitment to quality and safety by achieving multiple certifications for our facility in Marin County, California. These include our GMP’s (good manufacturing practices) as well as HAACP certification. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a scientific process control system for identifying and preventing biological, chemical and physical hazards in the food production and distribution process. While HACCP is a mandatory program for some food categories in the U.S. such as meat, seafood and juice, Navitas Naturals implements the program on a voluntary basis. We test our foods on a regular basis as part of the HACCP program. At this time, we are not aware of any other competitor that has HACCP certification.
- For more information on cadmium: http://www.who.int/ipcs/features/cadmium.pdf
- The Attorney General of California has issued a statement about the naturally occurring exception of metals in Cacao products: http://caag.state.ca.us/prop65/pdfs/prop65chocolateltr.pdf
- The FDA tests for elements in common foods. Here is a recent report: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodScienceResearch/TotalDietStudy/UCM184301.pdf