Monday, April 30, 2007
It might console you to know that she’ll probably be virtually sharing her booty in the near future on her blog. In case you forget to bookmark her, I’m adding her to my blogroll over there on the lower right.
Julie worked really hard too, with five raffle tickets (there were about 130 entries total) ... though the “ticket” I drew for her was for her comment to the FDA.
In the next week or so I’ll announce some more giveaways. Thanks again to everyone for their help in getting the word out.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The article in the Washington Post appeared on their website a little while ago.
Chocolate Purists Cry Foul as FDA Fudges Standards
Here are a few interesting passages:
When I talked to Michael Rosenwald about what happens to those comments we submitted on the website, he said that the 225 number was just what they’ve processed. On the FDA website, in their dockets section they have a Daily Listing which shows what they’ve processed lately. They post updates every weekday, however they don’t necessarily process the comments immediately. There’s a big gap between the processed comments since April 16th was the only one I found and then they posted a list on April 23rd. I don’t know how many more are in the queue ... hopefully enough.
I’m not an industry insider working at a mega huge company like Hershey’s, so I don’t know about this high quality oil that’s equal to or better than cocoa butter.
This is so true. Just like there’s crappy real chocolate and really good chocolate right now. However, I think that gap will get wider.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Don’t Mess With Our Chocolate announced that the public comment period has been extended to
May 25, 2007
June 25, 2007.
I’m so happy to hear that the momentum that’s built up over the last few days will lead to more people will be able to properly read up and make their comments. This also provides all of us an opportunity to contemplate what else might be in that FDA Petition that we haven’t thoroughly considered, so you might want to review it again with that in mind.
As for the Keep it Real Raffle? Well, the current one ends today, but I’ll run another one for the next month as well (different but equally scrumptious prize). So if you feel like keeping the conversations going out there and spreading the word even further, there will be another opportunity to win.
Hopefully we’ll all win when we Keep it Real.
UPDATE 4/27/2007: The comment form has been restored on the FDA site featuring a new expiration date of June 25th. I’ve revised this post to reflect the newest information.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Last night I was mentioned in a Slashdot post on the topic of the FDA considering the change in the definition of chocolate. I went to bed happy, because I saw quite a few new entries into the Keep it Real Raffle, which meant that the FDA was really going to hear what we thought. (There’s a lot of edumicated folks on Slashdot, the thread has over 600 comments, so I know that if they do end up telling the FDA how they feel it will be many different points of view ... which is cool and exactly they way it should be!)
This morning I found that the interview that I did with Bloomberg news was finally published: Hershey Battles Chocolate Connoisseurs Over Selling ‘Mockolate’ by Adam Satariano. I’m quoted and now everyone knows how old I am (at least Newsday didn’t run my photo ... then all the magic would be gone from Candy Blog). Later I did a companion pre-recorded radio interview with the cocoa-buttery-voiced Steve Geimann. (I’ll try to grab a link to that at some point, I might have missed it, there might be a podcast though.)
I was contacted by NPR for Talk of the Nation and went to their studio at lunch today to do a little 10 minute piece on the subject. The other guest on the show was Fran Bigelow of Fran’s in Seattle. (I didn’t tell her that her salted caramels are lovely ... I had to stay on topic.) The host, Rebecca Roberts, was really on top of things and I think helped to bring a lot of the nuances of the issue out. (Blog of the Nation link.)
I also did a phone interview with a reporter at the Washington Post. I think that’ll run tomorrow.
And tomorrow is when it’s all over. Well, that’s when this chapter ends. (Go log your opinions at the FDA site!)
My sincere thanks to everyone who has been working so hard to pass the word along. Instead of reacting to something like this after the fact, we’re able to have a voice and exercise our power to remind the FDA that they are supposed to be working to protect us. It’s a nice warm feeling, isn’t it?
UPDATE: the comment period may have been extended to May 25, 2007. (It’s not on the FDA site, but Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate says so.) Stay tuned!
UPDATE 04/27/2007: The comment period is extended to June 25, 2007. Here’s the new page on the FDA site for entering your thoughts.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I’m happy to report that Newsday picked up my Chocolate/Mockolate editorial and printed it in today’s edition. (You can catch it on their website here.)
The print edition actually has an illustration accompanying it. (I was worried ... they asked for a photo!)
The image was made by William L. Brown, who has a really fun website featuring his work and a passion for candy as well. (He gave me some great recommendations which I have every intention of following up on.)
A couple of funny things to report as well:
I have no control over the headlines they give the piece. It’s odd, they printed it exactly as I wrote it (well, it was edited, but all with my cooperation), but on the LATimes website it had two different headlines and another in the print edition. Here Newsday has given it another one.
The original one was “A chocolate rose by any other name” which I came up with but didn’t like. The one that I thought they were going to use in the print edition was “Lowering the chocolate bar” which I think is the smartest of all of them.
There is another unsigned editorial that first appeared in the Sacramento Bee and was then picked up by a bunch of other related outlets. The curious thing about that is that they ask readers to sign a petition. That’s inaccurate. There’s no petition, what you’re supposed to do is submit your comments to the FDA. It’s just a proposal and now is the time to stop it in its tracks.
UPDATE: the FDA comment deadline was extended to June 25, 2007. Get your comments in today right here.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Michael brought up a very good point in the comments here. Where is the proof that Big Chocolate is trying to degrade the standards of chocolate?
If you’ve gone through the files that are up for public view listed under 2007P-0085: Adopt Regulations of General Applicability to all Food Standards that would Permit, within Stated Boundaries, Deviations from the Requirements of the Individual Food Standards of Identity you will see that there is a letter from the FDA, a letter about a phone conversation between the FDA and the Grocery Manufacturers Association and then two documents from the GMA (with co-signatories): the cover letter and the citizen petition. (PDFs)
Nowhere in these documents does it say anything specifically about allowing a one hundred percent swap of cocoa butter in chocolate for vegetable fats to be called chocolate.
However, in that Citizen Petition it mentions (page 4) that there is an Appendix C ... a handy chart that breaks things down. But where is Appendix C? It’s sure not on the FDA’s website. I have it (thanks to Gary Guittard) and you can view it right here. Though it’s only a brief explanation of everything asked for in the proposed changes, it’s quite clear in the first example in the second column that they are asking to swap cocoa butter for other vegetable fats.
Since the Citizen Petition had many signatories, and the primary one was the Grocery Manufacturers Association, not the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, I decided to contact them for an official statement of their position. This is what I said:
I got this reply:
This was what the attached letter said:
As for the confusion about the changes not being entirely public (honestly, I’m not sure what else is in there), it is completely deplorable that the public comment period on these proposed changes ends on Wednesday, yet to this date there has been no coherent posting on the FDA’s website as to what we’re commenting on.
I was a bit panicked at first, after all, I was just getting my information from the Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate website. I actually waffled for a moment ... I can see a case being made for looser standards when it comes to using newer ingredients and keeping in step with other countries. But there came a reality check for me that I wasn’t just making this up in my head on the basis of one little old website. There have been quite a few articles written about this, with comments from the industry itself. I’m not sure why Hershey would respond to it (as they did in this article) if it weren’t true. I’ve also talked to two other journalists, one from ABC News and the other from Bloomberg.
But yes, it would be nice to get a hold of the actual document. Wouldn’t it?
Friday, April 20, 2007
See’s sent a special message to all of their email subscribers (and they even used one of my images!). If their email list is as big as my love for their Nuts & Chews, the word is spreading quickly now.
More blog chatter:
You’re all aces!
If you’re here for the first time and you’ve been blogging about the topic, you’re eligible to enter the Keep it Real Raffle! Deadline for comments to the FDA is Wednesday, April 25, 2007.
Keep track of all the lastest coverage on this page.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
My editorial in the LATimes was published.
Keep up with all my coverage of the issue here. Daily reviews continue as usual below.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.