17 Jun 2000
A major manufacturer admitted for the first time today that their chocolate could contain residues of the dangerous pesticide Lindane. Friends of the Earth released a letter from Cadbury's today admitting that Lindane residues are found in chocolate but claiming that these residues pose no threat to health. FOE released the letter as part of its "Real Food Week", demanding that major food manufacturers and retailers remove pesticide residues from their products.
The letter, dated 3rd February 2000, says that "Lindane is used to prevent cocoa trees from
being attacked by the capsid bug, and small traces of this chemical may be detected as
residues in the bean. Such residues are reduced during the processing of the bean and
minute traces of Lindane have been found in finished chocolate products ... Cadbury's is
totally confident that the minute traces of Lindane found in chocolate pose absolutely no risk
to health." [Full copy of the letter available from FOE Press Office]
But Lindane has already been banned or severely restricted in many other countries 
because of its persistence in the environment and its suspected health effects. In December
1998 an Austrian report to the EU recommended that lindane be suspended across Europe
. The report said there was no safe limit and listed several health effects linked to lindane
including breast cancer, birth defects and damage to the nervous system. .
Last month leading DIY stores  said that they will stop selling lindane-based products.
Supermarkets are also taking action ahead of any Government ban. Last month the Co-op,
the UK's biggest farmer, announced that it has banned lindane spraying on its own farms. Waitrose has told its fruit and vegetable suppliers not to use the pesticide and is investigating its use on other crops with a view to banning it completely.
Commenting, FOE Real Food Campaigner Sandra Bell said:
"Chocolate lovers want Real Chocolate - free of dangerous pesticides.
 Countries that have banned lindane include Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden.
 Report for the EU by the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, December 1998. The report
found that it was not possible to set a safe level of exposure for lindane and recommend a total ban.
Faced with this information the UK Government decided to ban the use of lindane for seed treatment
but did not ban its use on crops in the UK or in domestic products.
 Pesticide Usage Survey Reports between 1994 and 1997 show that an average of 41 tonnes of
lindane is applied to UK crops in a year. The latest figures to be published show that in 1998 16.8
tonnes of lindane were used on arable crops alone, not including seed treatments.
 Robert Dyas, Homebase, Wilkinson, B&Q and Boots all told the Campaign to Ban Lindane that they
will stop selling lindane-based products.
We will have local actions by over 80 groups in the following counties:
Avon, Beds, Berks, Bucks, Carmarthenshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, County Durham, Cumbria, Devon,
Dorset, Essex, Gloucs, Hants, Herts, Kent, Lancs, Leics, Lincs, London, Merseyside, Notts, Newcastle,
Norfolk, Oxon, Salops, S. Gloucs. S. Glamorgan Surrey, Warks, W. Midlands, Wilts, Worcs, Yorkshire.
[NB: 5 groups have already done actions but are available for stories, pictures and comment: Chinnor and Thame,
Aylesbury Vale, Hackney, North Lancashire and Nuneaton]
Groups will ask customers to challenge their supermarket to provide them with real food (Supermarket challenge
action). Many groups will also help shoppers find where they can buy local, fair-trade or organic food in the town
and surrounding area (we call this an "our town is a supermarket" action).
We have an ISDN LINE for interviews.
We have offices and experts in every English Region, in Wales and in Northern Ireland
Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881