CHOCOLATE THAT ISN’T

Be careful out there. The corporate powers are messing with us again.

Be careful out there. The corporate powers are messing with us again.

Here comes Hershey, the iconic candy company that claims to be “committed to making the world’s best chocolate.” For example, such brands as Mr. Goodbar, Milk Duds, and Take Five brag right on the label that they’re “made with chocolate.” Only … they’re not.

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Chocolate, as you probably know, is made of cocoa butter. It’s yummy stuff. But get out your magnifying glass to read the labels of the Hershey bars that claim to be “made with chocolate,” and you’ll find oils from palm kernels, soybeans, sunflower, and safflower listed – but no cocoa butter. None.

How can this be? Trying to find the logic of it will cause your brain to explode, but here is the essence of the deception. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates candy contents, says flatly that cocoa butter is the required fat for chocolate. However – under pressure from most of the industry’s big players, the FDA allows the use of such tricky phrases as “made with chocolate,” “chocolately,” and “chocolate candy” to label products that actually have zero of the good stuff in them.

It is, in other words, a government-sanctioned consumer fraud. But the industry wants to deepen the fraud by getting FDA regulators to alter the very definition of chocolate so that it no longer mentions cocoa butter. It’d be like saying that wineries could eliminate grapes and still label their product “wine.” A spokesman for the big candy makers’ lobbying group says that their attempt to pervert plain language is necessary in order to “modernize” FDA’s rules and “accommodate innovation.”

It’s more like accommodating a blatant consumer rip-off. The good news is that independent chocolatiers and consumers are in rebellion against this sneaky push for non-chocolate chocolate. To learn what’s going on with your own favorite chocolates, check out www.candyblog.org.

“Chocolate Lovers Pained by Candy Changes,” www.abcnews.com, September 2, 2008.

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