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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

FDA Chocolate Definition Change

I’ve been doing much more research on the issue of the FDA allowing chocolate companies to sell us chocolate that doesn’t contain cocoa butter. First, there’s nothing stopping confectioners from creating a product that contains cocoa solids and other fats. It’s perfectly legal. They want the FDA’s blessing to confuse consumers by letting them call an inferior product CHOCOLATE.

I read over the “Citizen’s Petition” (PDF) on the FDA website for 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. This is what it says:

Consumer expectations still define the basic nature of a food. These are, however, no generally held consumer expectations today concerning the precise technical elements which commonly recognized, standardized foods are produced. Consumers, therefore, are not likely to have formed expectations as to production methods, aging time, or specific ingredients used for technical improvements, including manufacturing efficiencies.

I’m not sure which ‘consumers’ they’re talking about when it comes to our generally held expectations about the precise technical elements of chocolate, but I’m pretty sure the majority of chocolate consumers would be able to tell the difference between mockolate and chocolate - both by looking at the label but more importantly by tasting the product. (I will grant you that I’ve had passably good mockolate from Guittard and Wilbur, which is useful your home kitchen when you don’t want a chocolate that you need to temper, like with dipped strawberries.)

And which citizens are saying this to the FDA on our behalf? Well, that’d be our good neighbors:

  • American Frozen Food Institute

  • American Meat Institute

  • Chocolate Manufacturers Association

  • Food Products Association (merged wtih Grocery Manufacturers Association)

  • Grocery Manufacturers Association (merged with Food Products Association)

  • International Dairy Foods Association

  • Juice Products Association

  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

  • National Fisheries Institute

  • National Meat Canners Association

  • North American Millers’ Association

  • Snack Food Association

  • But let’s get back to the simple fact that the confectionery companies can make mockolate and sell it right now. So ask yourself, why do they want to call it chocolate? Because it saves on printing costs to simply say “chocolate” instead of “chocolate flavored coating”? Or is it because vegetable oil substitutes cost 70% less than cocoa butter? (source)

    image

    If you’re curious about the current definitions, Hershey’s even has it all spelled out very well on their site.

    The FDA is The Nation’s Premier Consumer Protection & Health Agency ... the open comment period on this proposed shift is our opportunity to keep the CONSUMER in mind.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:20 am     CandyFDAChocolateNewsComments (6)

    Blueberry Hill Spice Jelly Beans

    Spiced Jelly EggsI had to go for a classic this year. I haven’t had traditional spice jelly beans for quite a long time. These were pretty looking jelly beans. The Blueberry Hill Foods Spiced Jelly Eggs are the traditional jelly bean size, not the itty ones that Jelly Belly seems to have popularized.

    I chose a bag at the store that didn’t look like it had too many purple ones in it, as I assumed that the purples were clove and I’m just not that keen on clove.

    Upon opening the bag I found that they ALL smelled like clove. I have to say that these were odd.

    image

    I’m still not quite sure what flavor these are, so I’m going to guess on some:

    Black - Licorice. Definitely licorice. Sweet and spicy with even a little hint of sizzle.
    White - Nutmeg? Seriously ... a nutmeg jelly bean? Hey, I actually like it, it reminds me of egg nog, but without the custardy taste.
    Green - Lime. I could do without this, but it wasn’t bad or anything.
    Yellow - Lemon. Nice and mellow with a good zest to it.
    Orange - Clove? It tastes like clove. Why is the orange one clove?
    Pink - Bitter new shoes? Really, I have no clue what this is. But that’s what it tastes like to me. Or maybe it taste like new carpeting at the dentist’s office. I’m not eating another one to try to narrow it down for you.
    Red - Cinnamon! I got one right! Sassy and sizzlingly good. Just don’t confuse the color with pink.
    Purple - Peppermint. What the ...? First of all, who makes peppermint jelly beans, and why would you make it the purple one. Anyway, it was tasty.

    Now I just need to sort out the bag of jelly beans and get rid of those orange and pink ones and I think it’s a nice mix.

    The texture of the beans is a little grainy, but not overly sweet, but has a good chew to it and well rounded flavors that last.

    A couple of other notes. This company has one of the worst websites I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it’s been updated since 2004 (it’s really not a website for consumers anyway). This product is manufactured in Mexico.

    Related Candies

    1. Russell Stover Pectin Jelly Beans
    2. Mike and Ike Italian Ice
    3. Wonka Nerds Jelly Beans
    4. Zachary Candy Corn & Jelly Pumpkins
    5. Gimbal’s Lavaballs
    6. Hot Tamales Ice
    7. Sunkist Fruit Gems
    Name: Spiced Jelly Eggs
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Blueberry Hill Foods
    Place Purchased: Long's Drug (Laguna Woods)
    Price: $.99
    Size: 12 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 104
    Categories: Jelly, Licorice, Mexico, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:11 am     Comments (26)

    Tuesday, April 3, 2007

    Godiva Easter Eggs

    DSC00022rI’ve been asked a few times what I think of Godiva. To be honest, I don’t think much about it. When I was a kid and the same company who owned Pepperidge Farm (Campbell Soup) also owned Godiva (well, that’s still true today). There was a Pepperidge Farm thrift store not far from our home that we’d shop at once a month. Much of the time they’d have Godiva at ridiculously low prices. Besides chocolates at holidays, this was my only interaction with fine chocolates.

    Of course I was in love with the elegant packaging. But I also appreciated the nice flavor and beauty of the chocolates as well. As I got a little older and became less impressed by those things, I realized, I didn’t like the chocolates themselves much. It’s not that they were bad, by any means, they just weren’t within my set of preferred flavors (you know, peanut butter and citrus) and I found the chocolate a little waxy.

    So I don’t eat them, I don’t pay much attention to them.

    But hey, it’s Easter and it’s about time I had something from Godiva represented here. So I popped into their shop over the weekend to see what was there for Easter. Lo and behold, it seemed they had a product that sounded right up my alley: an assortment of foil-wrapped Easter Eggs.

    image

    The assortment included Solid Dark Chocolate, Solid Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Coconut and Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter. Seeing that there were 16 eggs in the box and there were four flavors, I naturally assumed that there would be four of each flavor. Unfortunately there were only three of each of the filled eggs and five each of the solid eggs. Grrrr. I don’t want Godiva’s chocolate ... I want Godiva’s chocolates.

    The eggs themselves are sizeable. At about .42 ounces each they’re twice the size of the regular foil-wrapped eggs we’re used to in Easter baskets.

    The milk chocolate is nice. Creamy with a good caramelly milk flavor, though a little sticky and cloying as it melts on the tongue. The dark chocolate has a sweet but compelling scent, a little on the smoky side. It’s super creamy on the tongue with a slight dry finish. It doesn’t have the berry or fruity notes, just sticks to the woodsy/smoky side of things.

    But let’s get to the fun ones! The pink foil holds a Dark Chocolate with Coconut egg. I could smell the nutty coconut as I unwrapped it. The center is a light and creamy fondant with little flecks of coconut. It smelled like coconut but also a little floral, like lilacs. Amazingly good.

    The light blue foil holds a Milk Chocolate with Almond Butter egg. This one smelled immediately of dark toasted almonds. It was very soft to bite, I’m guessing from all the oils in the almond butter. Very thick and rich, the almond butter was fabulous, very much like a peanut butter, but with that unmistakeable almond taste. The milk chocolate set off the texture and flavor very well.

    I really liked these but at almost a DOLLAR PER EGG they were horrendously expensive. Over $35.00 per pound. That price is fine for high quality boxed chocolates, but not for a product that was mostly solid chocolate. Keep your eye out for their post-Easter sale though if you’ve just gotta have them. (This particular box of foil eggs is already sold out on the site, but they have this more expensive version with only six eggs. (Jeeze, where’s a thrift store when you need it!)

    Does anyone have any insider info on who supplies Godiva with their chocolate?

    Related Candies

    1. Godiva Chocoiste Pearls
    2. Lindt Lindor Truffle Eggs
    3. Russell Stover Eggs
    4. See’s Egg Quartet
    5. Pure Fun Candy Floss
    6. Kinder Egg
    7. Reese’s Eggs
    Name: Godiva 16 Foil Easter Eggs
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Godiva
    Place Purchased: Godiva (Glendale Galleria)
    Price: $15.00
    Size: 6.75 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 150
    Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Coconut, United States, Easter

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:40 am     Comments (10)

    Monday, April 2, 2007

    Keep It Real Chicklets

    So, if you saw my post about mobilizing folks to respond to the FDA about changes in the definition of Chocolate and you want to help, here are some little pretty images you can post on your site or blog or use in your sig line on forums. Link to the www.dontmesswithourchocolate.com site to spread the word.

    Please download the images to your computer and place them on your own server. Hotlinking to my site will not work.

    Tall Images
    image
    Cacao Pod: 250 pixels wide - 313 pixels high (right click above)

    Cacao Pod: 150 pixels wide - 187 pixels high
    Cacao Pod: 150 pixels wide - 49 pixels high
    Cacao Pod: 125 pixels wide - 156 pixels high
    Cacao Pod: 125 pixels wide - 44 pixels high

    image
    Keep it Real: 240 pixels wide - 209 pixels high (right click above)
    Keep it Real: 500 pixels wide - 436 pixels high
    Keep it Real: 150 pixels wide - 130 pixels high

    image
    Keep it Real (Wide) - 400 pixels wide - 128 pixels high (right click above)

    Keep it Real (wide) - 500 pixels wide - 160 pixels wide
    Keep it Real (Wide) - 150 pixels wide - 48 pixels high

    You’re welcome to link to them from this Photobucket Gallery.

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:31 pm     CandyFDANewsComments (3)

    Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate!

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the FDA controls what fits under the definition of chocolate for sale in the United States. They want to make MOCKOLATE into CHOCOLATE.

    As it is, chocolate is not an unhealthy treat. Cocoa Butter, which is composed of stearic acid, has been found to have no effect on blood lipid levels (cholesterol). Cocoa solids have been shown to have a positive effect on our bodies because of the high levels of antioxidants, insulin-like and anti-inflammatory compounds.

    The new rules would completely obliterate the current definition, basically making any concoction containing cocoa solids and a fat into Chocolate. Like magic!

    The rules currently state (basically) that chocolate must contain cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Other things can be in there, like milk fat and milk solids to make milk chocolate and a small amount of milk fat can be added to dark chocolate as well. The new proposal would allow products that contain NO COCOA BUTTER to be called chocolate.

    We all know that these mockolate products are crappy. They don’t taste the same ... they feel oily or greasy on the tongue and don’t have the smooth buttery melt. What’s worse? They usually contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) or tropical oils (saturated fats) ... these fats raise our cholesterol levels.

    Why is the Chocolate Manufacturers Association pushing for this? Because it’s more cost efficient.

    There’s no reason that consumers want this dilution of the standards for chocolate!

    It’s all for the chocolate companies to be able to make a cheaper product, an inferior product. Think about it, have you ever picked up a mockolate product and thought, “Goodness, that’s better than real chocolate!” Have you? I thought not. There will be a few holdouts that will continue with the tried and true traditional formulations of chocolate and they’re going to be the losers. Sure, the high end companies will do okay, because they’ve always had consumers with deeper pocketbooks. But the big chocolate companies that want to make this cheap mockolate will flood the market and confuse consumers ... ultimately just frustrating us with bad experiences and wasted money (and possibly a fatter belly and clogged arteries).

    You know what? The FDA doesn’t have to give the CMA what they want. You have the power to reject this ... but you have to tell the FDA!

    image

    It’s never been easier ... just visit the FDA’s public comment portion of their website and tell them that you don’t want to lose real chocolate in a sea of wax and tropical oils. You can fill out the form, or send them a letter or a fax. Here’s what you’re commenting on:

    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

    Just visit this page for a tutorial and some talking points ... or read through the issues and draft your own letter. The important thing to do is to tell them that this change does NOT PROTECT CONSUMERS. The use of alternate fats not only makes for crappy chocolate, it’s not good for us.

    The deadline for public comment on this is

    April 25th, 2007

    June 25, 2007.

    Resources:
    The FDA’s current Standards of Identity for Chocolate (not easy to read as a layperson).
    The Chocolate Manufacturers Association Glossary (pretty easy to understand definitions)
    Don’t Mess with our Chocolate “How To Help”
    Current FDA Food Labeling Guide (they don’t have to say “imitation chocolate” any longer!)
    Here are some little graphics I made that you can display on your site!

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:58 am     CandyFDAChocolateNews

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    Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

     

     

     

     

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    ON DECK

    These candies will be reviewed shortly:

    • Eat with your Eyes: Nougat

    • Orgran Molasses Licorice

    • Rogue Chocolatier

    • Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

    • Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

     

     

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