Michaels Charles with more details on the Dagoba Chocolate recall:
Sources disclose that Dagoba Chocolate owner, Frederick Schilling, has already jumped on a plane for Ecuador to find out what could possibly have occurred to result in certain late 2005 lots of Dagoba Eclipse bars (and other products using Ecuadoran single-origin beans) testing positive for excessive lead levels. All the affected chocolate has been recalled by Dagoba.
Educated speculation is that something must be seriously amiss where the cacao was grown. Natural growing conditions–cacao trees tend to grow scattered about under the rain forest canopy–should not give rise to this kind of problem. The Oregonian reported speculation that volcanic soils are to blame. Since the same chocolate has been sold for at least a couple of years without reports of prior problems, this hypothesis seems questionable.
Compounding the lead problem itself is the probable failure of testing in Ecuador. Before the cocoa liquor is delivered to Dagoba for chocolate manufacture, it is supposed to have been tested and given a clean bill of health. Such was apparently the case here. Internal testing at Dagoba is reported to have revealed the high lead levels. This raises the specter that the on-site testing was inaccurate or misreported, assuming it was done at all.
This story is but one variant of the multifaceted problems arising from lucrative cacao production in developing countries. Earlier stories have focused on indentured or slave labor conditions in some cacao producing countries in Africa. Purely in terms of production difficulties, what we are observing currently are production conditions in which there may be a lax attitude toward quality control. As one can imagine, the problem is no acuter than it is for a manufacturer like Dagoba which prides itself not only producing high-quality products but superior chocolate that is also organic.
Recalling a reported 40,000 pounds of chocolate–nearly 5% of Dagoba’s entire 2005 production–had to be as gut-wrenching as it was unavoidable. Those of us who know Frederick Schilling and the Dagoba crew wish them all well as they deal with this difficult financial and public relations challenge.
Food Dude says
I’m having some very strange sql database issues today. To those who had to suffer through a few minutes of odd behaviour while I posted this, my apologies.
Dave J. says
An egg salad sandwich for dinner–that is just too awesome for words.
well seasoned says
Ooooh, what a juicy Stickel/Frank story! Reminds me of my very favorite Gerry Frank story (among many), which I heard from a young line cook who was working at the now-defunct Compass Cafe. Gerry gave the Compass a nod in his column, and I happened to talk to this kid shortly afterward. He told me, “Yeah, after that guy Gerry Frank gave us a good review, the restaurant filled up with grumpy old people” [emphasis on “old”]. Let’s hope PK doesn’t suffer the same fate!
Michael Charles says
On the Dagoba story. . .
Law professor/blogger Jack Bogdanski may have become an important public affairs voice in this community, but his self-righeous vituperation directed toward Dagoba is sickening. Let’s see: here’s this little tiny company which has just recalled a substantial percentage of its entire annual output trying to figure out what the hell hit them, it’s founder and leader is literally at the source investigating, and here comes Billy JackBo screaming and threatening lawsuits. Give it a break, Jack. At least give ’em a few days to get their bearings before having to respond to your interrogatories. If the heavy metal anxiety is that overpowering, get a ‘script.
I will be the first to admit to some bias in favor of Dagoba and its ownership. If you have met Frederick Schilling, you cannot help but like the guy. And you have to admire a small town Oregon company mixing it up with much bigger competition to put out premium quality and organic chocolate.
Obviously something bad has happened. If it were Hershey’s, I’m sure they would have had the smooth talking p.r. heads out in force by now. As it is, we have a small company doing its best to cope with a crisis that is likely not of its making. Kicking them while they are down is reprehensible.
Food Dude says
Does anyone know when the Oregonian restaurant of the year comes out?
Pascal Sauton says
i believe it’s the 21st…
Looks like it’s PK. Good for him. He should have been last year, though. But the O had to realize this was a good restaurant for reading it in Food and Wine…
But that’s right, we 3 hours behind the East Coast!
Hi. This is much more than a PR challenge for Dagoba. I’m 5 months pregnant. I have a family member who is seriously lead poisoned. We both ate the chocolate. They sold us a dangerous product which causes people to get very sick. It is not a small matter. Plus, Dagoba refuses to tell me how much lead was in the chocolate I ate. I deserve better as a consumer and as a human.
Food Dude says
Update on the PK story: The request for an egg salad sandwich was granted. Knowing PK, it was probably pretty darn good.
Food Dude says
By the way, I know some of you hate the little code you have to put in before you can post a comment. I do too (also called a “captcha filter”). Unfortunately, it is the only effective way I have found to keep out the spammers. When they get busy, up to 100 hr get posted. I turn it off when they slow down, turn it back on when things get out of hand (mostly at night). Thanks for putting up with it.