Saturday, April 14, 2007
Big Media Discovers the Proposed FDA Chocolate Changes
I’ve been madly typing away on an editorial for the LA Times for the past week. Honing it, submitting it, editing it.
And I’m feeling pretty good. I’m taking a stand, getting the word out. Because I was feeling like this topic was neglected in the mass media.
So I ran into my neighbor this morning, who happens to work at the LA Times (no, she’s not the one who spits things out) and she said, “Did you see the LATimes this morning?”
She said I should read it because there is an article on the front page about the cocoa butter substitution proposal.
(Sigh. So my editorial is a no-go at the moment. Maybe some retooling.)
Here are some highlights of the article with my commentary:
Think about that for a moment. So a quarter of what we’re eating when we consume chocolate is actually cocoa butter. And replacing that huge proportion with an ingredient that doesn’t make it taste better also isn’t going to improve the nutritional profile of chocolate. It’s going to make it worse. Sure, chocolate is high in fat (hello? it’s 25% fat) but it has been found to be neutral when it comes to our cholesterol profile (that’s just plain cocoa butter, chocolate itself as a combination of both cocoa solids high in antioxidants and the neutral butter lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol). The fats they want to put in place of cocoa butter are nasty. They contain higher levels of saturated fats and can even contain trans fatty acids.
That flexibility already exists. Hershey is free to make products without cocoa butter in them right now. In fact, they do. They put a vegetable oil based coating on the current version of the 5th Avenue Bar. I’ve had it. And as a consumer with taste, I prefer the old version. I resent the fact that if this proposal goes through they can take the current mockolate formulation and put a big banner across the front of the package that says “Now with Real Chocolate” without changing a thing in the actual ingredients. Tell me they’re doing it becuaseof my preference and I will laugh in your face.
Oh, and it could be years? Yes, but the open comment period for the public to respond is now, so that sort of mollifying comment is like saying, “don’t worry your pretty little head about it. We’ll do what’s right for you. Look at how much we have your interests at heart, because we’ve already publicly stated that customers may actually prefer a version of chocolate that don’t have cocoa butter in it.”
Honestly, this sums it up so well. Industry is overthinking this. It’s a simple thing that we want, we just want chocolate. Keep it real, guys. Don’t mess with out chocolate.
Note: Jerry Hirsch’s article also appeared in the Seattle Times.
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