Mondelez International has filed a patent for a method to give black cocoa powder its rich color using fewer environmentally damaging chemicals and no iron salts.
Mondelez’s research subsidiary, Kraft Foods UK R&D, hinted in its patent application that the invention could allow Oreo cookies to use “significantly less cocoa powder”.
The process uses alkalising salts which are free from ammonium carbonate and iron salts.
Ammonium carbonate damaging to the environment
Ammonium carbonate and iron salts are often used to alkalize cocoa beans – a process before roasting that gives the powder a darker color and improved flavor.
“However, the use of ammonium carbonate causes a number of challenges in both the personal safety of those producing the powder and in terms of environmental impact due to the liberation of ammonia gas through the process,” said the application.
Forbidden iron salts
Iron salts can be employed to do the same job, but are outlawed in a number of markets.
Mondelez said that cutting the iron salts will allow it manufacture and sell confectionery products with black cocoa powder in a wider number of countries.
Which alkalizing salts?
The new alkalization process cuts iron salts altogether using a mixture of ammonium carbonate, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.
Some examples of the invention also completely replace ammonium carbonate with potassium carbonate without impacting taste.
Mondelez tested the cocoa powders using Ivorian cocoa for Oreo cookies.
The company said the method could be used for standard black cocoa powder and high flavor cocoa, which can be used to give a more intense flavor.
The patent was filed under The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities.
Signatories to the PCT will now decide whether or not to grant the patent.