Chocolate-lovers should be worried. Currently, products labeled as “chocolate” must be made from real cocoa butter and whole-milk powder (for milk chocolate). But there’s deviousness afoot, as food manufacturers push to change these restrictions so they can label products made with vegetable oil as “chocolate” (under current guidelines they must be listed as “chocolate-flavored”).
The latest newsletter from the Center for Food Safety reports on the situation:
A group of food industry associations, led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA) has petitioned the FDA to change this rule, and to allow manufacturers to falsely label products as ‘chocolate’ even if they use non-chocolate oils or milk by-products in their products.
FDA is considering this change even though it can serve only one purpose: to promote profits for makers of cheap, inferior fake-chocolate products.
And even those who consume only top-of-the-line chocolates (no vegetable oil in mine, thank you very much) should be concerned. “If this change is adopted, producers of real chocolates will face an enormous and unfair disadvantage, since their true chocolate will cost more to produce but will be sold alongside the now-undetectable fakes … finding true chocolate will become difficult and [consumers] will often be misled into buying the foul, pasty-tasting, imitation product.”
What can you do to protect the integrity of your chocolate? You can send a letter to the FDA, which is holding an open comment period (ending Wednesday). The Center for Food Safety has an easy email form on its site for those who love chocolate enough to fight for it.