Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hands Off the Chocolate!

Ah, Chocolate--the magnificent indulgence available in every price range and level of chocolaty goodness, which in my house ranges from M&M's Dark to a 72% bittersweet--emphasis on bitter, and even a 90% for baking. I will freely admit to having chocolate more days than not and will, in a pinch, even have a Hershey's bar.

It's bad enough that the major US chocolate companies have, for years, been offering a steady stream of chocolate that is, in my humble opinion, too heavy on the milk and of a more inferior quality than that made by independent companies. (There are, of course, a few bright spots, like Dove Chocolate, M&M's Dark and Reece's Peanut Butter Cups.) But now the US Chocolate Manufacturers Association has quietly petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to request a change in the ingredients required to label a food as "chocolate."

In place of cocoa butter they want to substitute VEGETABLE SOLIDS. In place of MILK they want to use "WHEY," the watery remains after milk has been curdled and strained. It's also a by-product of cheese. They can offer any rationale they want, but without much thought one can arrive at the conclusion that price is the prime motivator. But without cocoa butter and milk, is it chocolate? Hell no.

Guittard Chocolate of Burlingame, CA, is leading the charge against the US Chocolate Manufacturers Association's petition. But you can help! Check out Don't Mess With Our Chocolate for info on how to let the FDA know that you want your chocolate to be just that: chocolate.

The public comment period has been extended until June 25, so please get all of the chocolate lovers you know to submit their comments to the FDA.

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