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April 22, 2007

The Republican war on chocolate


Belgian chocolate, originally uploaded by marjesb14.

Julia is sounding the alarm about the latest outrage upon human dignity visited on the American people by the corporate state: the debasement of the nation's chocolate.

Currently, there are laws mandating that products marketed as "chocolate," must contain a certain percentage of cocoa butter by weight. However, the FDA is reviewing a "citizens petition" to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute vegetable fats or oils for the cocoa butter. Who are these citizens? The LA Times reports that they belong to the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn., the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Snack Food Assn. and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn.

Tell the FDA what you think of this corporate assault on our quality of life. Detailed instructions here.

Don't think it will stop at chocolate. Next, they'll let Big Dairy market ice milk as ice cream.

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Is nothing sacred? Currently, there are laws mandating that products marketed as "chocolate" must contain a certain percentage of cocoa butter by weight. However, the FDA is reviewing a "citizens petition" to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute... [Read More]

Comments

Clearly the devious Republicans know that without anti-food-adulteration laws, we wouldn't have heightened scrutiny of laws burdening members of discrete and insular minorities. First falls chocolate, then the entire body of twentieth-century individual-protective constitutional law.

I don't even want to imagine what the the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn is doing getting involved in the certification of what constitutes chocolate.

Regarding the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the only reason I can see why they would care would be their wanting the fat of dead cows to be put into "chocolate" bars, in place of cocoa butter.

Eric Jaffa: Bingo.

Update:

I just read the industry petition, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association may be interested in weakening food standards in general, rather than changes specific to chocolate.

I stand by my initial comment though that we may get "chocolate" with the fat of dead cows if the FDA allows "chocolate" without cocoa butter.

By the way, in addition to making the word "chocolate" meaningless, the food industry also wants to make the word "macaroni" meaningless by applying it to pasta of any shape.

Buy European.

You sure this is a "Rethug" thing?

Last time I looked, this and other corporate food outfits played both sides of the fence. Both parties have been on the payroll for some time.

Any Democratic opposition worthy of note to be passed on?

Didn't think so.

Presumably, one could always not buy this debased chocolate.

--Presumably, one could always not buy this debased chocolate.--

Yep. Quality US and European producers could prominently display the methods they use etc.

I always read ingredients. They already lable as "chocolate" crap I won't eat. The question is whether the doctored fats have to be listed.

I went and (tried) to read that "citizen's petition". 35 pages of obfuscatory glop. It should be rejected on those grounds alone.

It's interesting how often they talk about regulations of other foods -- "yogurt" is mentioned on pages 10,18,20,28,31; "cheese" on 2,4,9,10,11,18,20,21,22,24,26,27,31.

They don't seem to get to the point until page 15, and even then, figuring out exactly what changes are allowed, requires reference to other documents.

You link to an FDA site but I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment. The page hasn't been updated since March 26th. Can you give directions on how to post a comment? I definitely prefer cocoa butter to transfats or lard any day. However the manufacturers are having a difficult time marketing those transfats now... and probably they are being made by the same companies that make candy bars.

If the finished product has the properties of chocolate, or cannot be told from chocolate under the previous definition, I'm not sure I see why there's an argument.

Then again, I drink black coffee and thus have never used non-dairy creamer.

suzib -

Follow these instructions to leave a comment.

--Presumably, one could always not buy this debased chocolate.--

I don't have the time, nor do I have a full time staff to research every god-damned thing I buy or consume. If it says "chocolate" on the wrapper I expect fucking chocolate. If the label says "butter" I expect butter not margarine. If the label on the milk jug says "pasteurized" I expect it not to be pus from a tubercular udder. Jesus, is that really asking too much?

Is nothing sacred anymore? Think of the children!!!!
Debasing chocolate, they may as well just toss civilization out and return to the caves. Those madmen will stop at nothing to ruin every thing that is good and right in the world.

Okay- that's out of my system but really, I'm glad I'm in Canada with a steady supply of good chocolate from Europe. I guess I'll have to add that to the list of things I have to put in the care packages for the poor benighted souls down South, like really Coca-cola and Mac and Cheese.

Cfrost: You don't have time to turn the chocolate bar over and see what's in it?

It's not like you'd suddenly be unable to find the good stuff. When I go to the grocery store, I can choose whether I want to buy Hershey's or some fancy imported brand. If some companies started substituting oil for cocoa butter, we'd probably just see the good chocolate makers start touting the fact that they use the real stuff, much like all those "trans-fat free" labels you see everywhere you go. I think my overall quality of life could survive the blow.

I'm not worried about this on a personal level, because I buy good chocolate. And I do read labels -- but if I buy a particular brand of crackers every week, I don't read the label *again* every week; I assume that it's the same as last week. You can bet that candy-makers who start substituting other fats for cocoa butter are not going to trumpet the fact in their packaging. An average consumer who doesn't have time to keep up with the latest on FDA rulings is not going to check the labels on brands of food that they buy often because they will have no reason to believe that anything has changed.

There's a solution to this-- have such chocolates labeled "American Chocolate." Like "American Cheese", the name will be synonymous with something that's low-quality and bad-tasting. The FDA can then decide whether they want to debase the "American brand" by going through with this.

Andrew Myers -

If they put "Real Cocoa Butter!" on the front of the wrapper, it may make it seem less healthy because people associated "butter" (different product) with cholesterol. Therefore, manufacturers may not go that route.

It's better if the FDA doesn't agree to this in the first place.

We already have a perfectly good standard for what constitutes chocolate, as opposed to chocolate substitute. What possible benefit would there be to the consumer for changing the rules now?

If the label says "coffee" I want actual coffee beans, not chicory. I want my chocolate to come from cacao beans and not carob. I want to know that something that markets itself as ice cream is made from cream rather than milk. Luckily, there are laws in place to ensure that manufacturers are delivering what they promise.

Changing the labeling laws would benefit the makers of substandard products at the expense of quality manufacturers. The good guys would have to compete with crap that hadn't previously been allowd to pass itself off as chocolate. They'd have pay to redesign their labels and educate the public, etc. Of course, the consumer would lose the simple and effective protection that comes with longstanding labeling guarantees.

Cocoa butter is very important to the mouthfeel of chocolate because it's solid at room temperature, but melts at body temperature. Other fats give the chocolate a waxy consistency because they don't melt smoothly in your mouth.

Why not chocolate? They've already repurposed products like American "Democracy".

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