This time they’ve gone too far.
The FDA is thinking about messing with my chocolate.
Certain movers and shakers in the U.S. chocolate industry want to
change the basic formula of chocolate in order to use
vegetable fat substitutes in place of cocoa butter, and to use milk
instead of milk.
The FDA is considering relaxing the current rules that require chocolate manufacturers to use a certain percentage of cocoa butter in chocolate in order to call it chocolate on the package. (Under currect regulations, even white chocolate must contain a certain percentage of cocoa butter in order to be labeled by that name.) This FDA is considering this because Big Chocolate is asking it to. It seems the Grocery Manufacturers Association has petitioned the FDA to change the chocolate standard, and the Chocolate Manufacturers Association is on board. They’re calling the move "thinking outside the chocolate box," according to an LA Times article.
Hershey Co., which supports the Grocery Manufacturers’ petition, said
the standards were created decades ago and should be modernized.
By adopting the proposal, the FDA would be providing "flexibility
to make changes based on consumer taste preferences, ingredient costs
and availability and shelf life," said Kirk Saville, spokesman for the
Hershey, Pa.-based company.
It’s worth noting that not all chocolatiers are in favor of the move. Some of the smaller manufacturers, such as good old See’s Candies, oppose the change, and they are encouraging consumers to add a voice to the conversation.
The FDA has been holding an open-comment period this month, and they just extended the period to May 25th. So if you have an opinion, now’s the time to speak up. Personally, I don’t care what they put in their candy as long as the package explains that the brown stuff isn’t real chocolate. I want to know that when I buy something labeled "chocolate," it’s real chocolate, full of cocoa buttery goodness. Do you know—I learned this when I was doing research for The Cocoa Commotion ten-odd years ago—that the fats in cocoa butter are of a sort that causes chocolate to slide over your teeth rather than cling to teeth and cause tooth decay?
Candyblog, my favorite source of confectionary news, is holding a raffle to encourage people to talk to the FDA. Since the public-comment period was extended by a whole month, I’m guessing that means the FDA is hearing from a lot of consumers on the issue, and that’s great. If you love chocolate, real chocolate, speak now or forever hold your piece of mockolate.