European dark chocolate lovers have lost their hard-fought battle to keep their chocolate pure. An EU directive is about to be passed that allows alternative ingredients, such as vegetable fat, to be used in the manufacture of chocolate bars.
This could result in manufacturers diluting pure cocoa butter with other ingredients.
Under the new regulations, up to 5 per cent vegetable fat may now be added to a bar of chocolate in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and a number of other European countries which have, up until now, resisted attempts to dilute the product.Since vegetable fat costs around 20 per cent less than pure cocoa butter, only up-market chocolate products are likely to resist the pressure to cut costs.The French have been particularly vociferous on the matter, and a number of campaign groups expressed their disappointment at the EU decision to push through the directive. Many fear that the addition of vegetable fat will lower the quality of chocolate and alter the taste.
The UK's Guardian newspaper reported Guy Urbain, honorary president of the National Confederation of Chocolate and Confectionary manufacturers in France, as saying that the regulations would confuse consumers searching for genuine chocolate.
In contrast, British chocolate has always contained vegetable fat. But in France, most consumers prefer the bitter taste of dark chocolate, which is produced from a base of pure cocoa butter.