Monday, April 16, 2007

Help Save The Chocolate!!

The future of the American Chocolate Industry could be uncertain. As of recently, the Grocer Manufacters of America with support of the Chocolate Manufacturers of America (and Hersheys) is vying to change Chocolate so that it can be produced more cheaply. (They argue that they are thinking "outside the box"...) Today, most high quality milk chocolate is made from cocoa liquor (the chocolate part), milk, sugar, vanilla and cocoa fat (naturally occurring in the cocoa bean). The powers that be are petitioning the FDA to relax the ingredient guidelines so that Vegetable Oils can replace the natural Cocoa fats. Doing this would change everything that you know and love about chocolate; the texture, the mouthfeel, the FLAVOR.

(Chocolate candy does exist where the cocoa fats are replaced with vegetable oils..many lower quality candies already do this, but they have to call the chocolate, "chocolate coating")

Sees and Guittard will most likely stick to the current FDA standards for chocolate, as I imagine will the smaller boutique chocolatiers, which is a sigh of relief; but, this doesnt make the petition to loosen the ingredient guidelines any less disturbing. It is amazing what measures those will take, compromising quality and integrity, in the name of saving a buck. Sick.

Express your outrage here:

Did you know that the average American eats 12 pounds of chocolate per year?


amy said...

sad, yes. i've moved on from hersheys anyway... once you have scharffenberger and the like, there's no going back

Sara said...

ah, but didn't you know that Hersheys bought Scharffenberger?? you might still be affected, make your voice heard, girlfriend! :)

JG said...

Yup, Hershey bought Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt Confections, and Dagoba too. I quite agree that there should not be a "new definition" of chocolate. But the FDA part is about the label - and marketing; not about ingredients. The FDA requires the ingredients in chocolate be listed either as Chocolate - Cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin - an emulsifier, vanilla - a natural flavor OR the ingredients can be mixed into all the ingredients making it more difficult to know what is in the chocolate and what are ingredients in the rest of the product. Ingredients are listed in descending order by volume.
I'm not so sure about the real motivations of Guittard and See's though. Guittard is See's primary supplier of chocolate. Guittard makes "coatings" and See's uses them (in some products.)
So all this is, I think, about the big label on the front of the package like a cake mix that says, "Now with Hershey Chocolate!" With a change in the FDA rules chocolate marketers can cut down on - or eliminate - the more expensive cocoa butter ingredient and replace it with cheaper fats. The best defense - buy good chocolate!! We Americans have a way to go; Switzerland, Austria and Ireland all enjoy more chocolate than we do - more than 20 pounds per person!

Sara said...

Hi Jg, thanks for shedding more light on the issue. It is nice to have perspective of someone closer to the chocolate industry!