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FDA May Change Chocolate Standards!


aguynamedrobert
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haha...No I don't think that the FDA will hold me at gunpoint to buy a certain thing...what I am worried about are the people that want to buy fine chocolate but have no idea what to buy...

We need to be vigilant that the FDA does not participate in the degrading of our food stocks.

I don't want to live in the middle ages, so I appreciate the abundance and convenience of commercial mass-produced food. Nonetheless, if some companies aren't held to standards, they will degrade the quality of foods to the point where the foods taste less and less like they should.

Then the average consumer eats these foods regularly from a variety of purveyors, and forgets what they're supposed to taste like. The American palate changes as people forget and get used to the poorer quality substitute. For example, think of how the American palate has changed from the many convenience and fast foods developed in the last 50 years.

Today I was doing some errands, and I passed a swanky new ice cream shop advertising "homemade ice cream" (i.e., made on the premises from local ingredients). Of course I had to try it out. The ice cream was very disappointing to me. It tasted like supermarket ice cream but with exotic flavors. The ice cream really wasn't thick or creamy, and it had a fair amount of air in it. It wasn't like my homemade ice cream, anyway!

Yet the shop was busy with customers, and everyone seemed to like the ice cream. I had to wonder if they would have been so satisfied if they were used to the flavor and texture of real homemade ice cream, rather than supermarket ice cream.

Robert, thanks for this thread, and I have opined to the FDA.

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  • 3 weeks later...

For those of you who have been following the proposed changes to the "Standard of Identity" for chocolate and those who haven't heard about this yet, it is worth pointing out that the FDA has received an "enormous" number of responses so far. In fact, they have received far more than they have received on similar proposals.

If you have not submitted comments to the FDA, you still have time! Because of the enormous amount of responses so far, the FDA has extended their comment period to June 25th. You can submit your comments via our website:

http://www.amanochocolate.com/frankenchocolate/

where we also have a form letter to make it nice easy -- it won't take you more than 2 minutes, I promise.

Just to recap for those who haven't heard, the FDA has a proposal before it that will allow chocolate manufacturers to be able to replace cocoa butter (the natural fat present in the cocoa bean and which gives chocolate its incredible mouth-feel) with vegetable and artificial oils and fats. Currently, they can already do this and that is why we have such things as Twix, Butterfinger, etc. They can call it whatever they want but .... what they can not currently do is call it chocolate. Up until this point, when something was labeled chocolate, it was just that -- chocolate.

From a baking perspective, not all of the proposed fats will be one to one replacements for cocoa butter. They will have different melting properties, mouthfeel, etc. They will not bake, temper, the same way as real chocolate will. There will be significant variations between brands depending on whether the manufacturer used, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, shea butter, or so called "cocoa butter equivalent".

A few years ago, my wife bought some chocolate from a store that they had labeled as "molding chocolate". Normally, a good cook, I don't know what happened in this case perhaps she simply wasn't paying attention. Anyway, she baked a cake with it and it was horrid. She had to throw it out. It was a palm kernel oil chocolate flavored coating that she had bought but it was mislabeled as "molding chocolate"..... If this passes, look for disasters like this to become far more common.

The disappointing thing from my perspective is that the "enormous number of responses" that the FDA has received so far is -- as of not too long ago -- is about 250 public comments. I know we can do better than this. On the plus side, this is one of those rare opportunities to actually have your voice heard by the Government. So, please take 2 minutes to send your comments to the FDA. You will be glad you did.

Thanks,

-Art

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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Thanks for the reminder Art. Art is right that this is a time where the government actually WANTS to hear your voice to make their decision....so take this opportunity to tell the FDA that you don't want your chocolate changing! We have one of the best rule outlines for chocolate in the USA and we need to keep our food top quality and REAL....

Write into the FDA at either web site...

www.dontmesswithourchocolate.com

http://www.amanochocolate.com/frankenchocolate/

Have a great day everybody...

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A few years ago, my wife bought some chocolate from a store that they had labeled as "molding chocolate".  Normally, a good cook, I don't know what happened in this case perhaps she simply wasn't paying attention.  Anyway, she baked a cake with it and it was horrid.  She had to throw it out.  It was a palm kernel oil chocolate flavored coating that she had bought but it was mislabeled as "molding chocolate".....    If this passes, look for disasters like this to become far more common.

while i sympathize with this error and understand the need to clearly label products...something labeled "molding chocolate" would definitely make me take a second glance at the ingredient panel.

again, this discussion is pertinent, but it won't change ingredient labels. if a product contains ingredients other than cocoa butter (vegetable oils, etc) then these items will have to be labeled with these ingredients.

if we're too lazy to read the labels...then it is our own fault. i don't think i'll ever mistake a snickers bar for fine chocolate.

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while i sympathize with this error and understand the need to clearly label products...something labeled "molding chocolate" would definitely make me take a second glance at the ingredient panel.

again, this discussion is pertinent, but it won't change ingredient labels.  if a product contains ingredients other than cocoa butter (vegetable oils, etc) then these items will have to be labeled with these ingredients.

if we're too lazy to read the labels...then it is our own fault.  i don't think i'll ever mistake a snickers bar for fine chocolate.

Maybe you won't, but there are many less aware people out there who will be confused. Take for example a friend of mine who was making a chocolate cake that had ganache filling and a poured chocolate glaze. She went to the cake decorating store and bought something labeled "chocolate" (whether it was called molding chocolate I don't know). At any rate, it was that crappy palm kernel oil stuff and of course it ruined her cake. This store probably mis-labeled it but at least they could be called on the carpet about it and made to change their ways.

Clear, understandable labeling is the one of the easiest things a company can do. It doesn't cost them any more to make a good label than a bad one, which is why I don't support changing the standards. Why should everyone always have to read the fine print when it could just as easily state the obvious on the package?

I do believe "caveat emptor" but why make it more difficult than it has to be?

Edited by Darcie B (log)
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Lindt already add's "flavors" to their chocolate...the fats could be next...

Not to sound nit-picky, but vanilla is a flavoring, and is already added to many if not most high-end chocolates, including Amedei, El Rey, Michel Cluizel, Guittard, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Good point. The reason I would argue for vanilla to be in chocolate and not other flavorings is that vanilla estabilshed itself as a fundamental ingredient in chocolate for a multitude of years....

What lindt is doing is trying to add "flavor" where they have a lack of it (in my opinion)...they add the flavors they add so it tastes more "fruity" or just better flavor without having to start with better beans...

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Not to sound nit-picky, but vanilla is a flavoring, and is already added to many if not most high-end chocolates, including Amedei, El Rey, Michel Cluizel,  Guittard, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.

The problem with Lindt's flavor additions is that they are adding extra dimension to bars marketed specifically for the characteristics expressed by their "terroir." If we find vanilla in three of Valrhona's single estate bars we can still easily distinguish between them due to the differences in flavor of the cacao itself. Prune extract might throw us off a little bit.

Formerly known as "Melange"

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Not to sound nit-picky, but vanilla is a flavoring, and is already added to many if not most high-end chocolates, including Amedei, El Rey, Michel Cluizel,  Guittard, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.

Well, yes. In great amounts vanilla is a "flavor" but in addition to that, it is a flavor enhancer. It all depends on how much vanilla is added.

The same can be said for salt. If large amounts of salt are added, clearly something will taste salty. But when used in small almost imperceptible amounts, it will enhance a dish and bring out its flavors.

Just as most of us here would not think of buying a prime piece of meat and throwing it on the grill and leaving off the salt, the same can be said for vanilla and many dishes.

What we are seeing with the current FDA proposal is the idea of replacing a key constituent of chocolate that comes from the cocoa bean with something else that pretends to be chocolate. Vanilla and many other flavorings -- in general -- do not try to "be" chocolate while that is the sole purpose of the hydrogenated vegetable fats being discussed.

At which point something when adulterated ceases to be "real" is partly a philosophical question. 1%, 5%, 10%, 20% 75% 95%? I believe that historically, when people have discussed chocolate people on both sides of the discussion knew what was being talked about. With the current proposal, the qualities, textures, and baking properties of chocolate will be all over the map and it will create confusion in the marketplace.

Think for example, someone could market runny chocolate watered down with vegetable oil (for those "chocolate fountains") simply as dark chocolate. Clearly that would have different baking properties from what we all think about as dark chocolate.

The manufacturers already have plenty of room to work with. They can say that their products are "chocolate flavored" or "flavored with chocolate" or some such as well as stamping their creation with a brand name such as is the case with "Butterfinger". When purchased at the store, we all know what we are getting. (When you buy a Butterfinger bar you know what you are getting / are in for). If this FDA proposal passes, when people talk about buying "chocolate", it could potentially be any number of different things.

Clear labeling and information to the consumer is one of the most important things in the marketplace. It allows the consumer to make informed choices. Unfortunately, this proposal makes things less clear to the consumer rather than more.

-Art

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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  • 4 months later...

For anyone who was following the proposed change in Chocolate by the FDA and supported by GMA and CMA here is some news...They wanted to change chocolate by taking out the cocoa butter and replacing it with cheap vegetable fats and still call it Chocolate!!!

Well, after much fight and many people writing into the FDA, Hershey's and Mars decided not to support the change in chocolate! So much thanks to Gary Guittard for getting this whole movement going and thanks to everyone who supported!

WE WON!!!

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