23 April 2007

Keep Our Chocolate Great!

Posted in events, food at 11:23 pm by Tricia

Don’t Mess with ChocolateIf you enjoy good chocolate, you probably enjoy how it melts in your mouth. This is because of the cocoa butter, an intrinsic component of chocolate as we know it. Unlike many other fats, cocoa butter is solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature, and that’s what gives chocolate such a great mouth feel.

By current standards, you can’t make a chocolate bar without cocoa butter. Remove the cocoa butter and you can’t call it chocolate. (But paradoxically, darker chocolates have more cocoa mass and thus less cocoa butter, which is why it might seem less ‘creamy’).

But even of that technical mumbo jumbo. If a group of manufacturers have their way, they will be allowed to replace cocoa butter with other fats, like vegetable oil. Needless to say, the subsitutes are much less expensive, so despite the claims that “consumers have no expectations” about chocolate, and it’s all in our best interest, this is clearly about profit. No big surprise there, I guess.

Manufacturers are already allowed to make a concoction like this, but they are not allowed to call it chocolate (some have called it “mockolate“!) So the main thing this proposal would change is their marketing options. Given the current market appeal of chocolate (especially dark chocolate) as a kindof-good-for-you snack (what with all the claims about anti-oxidants and flavonoids and good fats and so on), such a change is tantamount to deception, all in the name of profits.

If you want to read more about this, check out the Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate site or the Candy Blog by Cybele May. She’s written a particularly good commentary about it that got published in the LA Times on April 19th.

If you want to help protect chocolate, you can comment at the FDA web site. But act quickly! The deadline for public comments is April 25th.

In the immortal words of Larry-Boy: with great chocolate comes great responsibility – let’s keep it great!

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