Mars hits out at US chocolate redefinition proposal

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

US moves to redefine chocolate have come under further criticism by
some of the leading players in the industry.

Mars said yesterday that it would continue to produce all its chocolate with cocoa butter, rejecting proposed changes that would allow the name to be included on products made using cheaper vegetable oil. The reaction by one of the world's leading confectioners could encourage others to pressure the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to scrap the plans, preventing processors from possibly cutting supply costs for their chocolate. Mars claims that revising current standards on chocolate to allow vegetable oil in place of cocoa butter would fundamentally change the product by compromising one of its key tastes. According to the company, coca-butter is vital to ensuring chocolates creaminess and texture. Mars Snackfoods US president Todd Lachman said that the company would not therefore consider substituting its ingredients. "Changing the definition of what chocolate is would be a mistake,"​ he stated. "The bottom line is that we're not going to change our chocolate."​ While Lachman added that the stance was likely to increase costs for the group, he claimed that maintaining quality was paramount for the company. The proposal to change the formulation was announced earlier this year by the FDA following petitioning from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) along with other industry bodies. Industry leaders are calling for more flexibility in the current regulations to reflect changing consumer attitudes and advances in manufacturing technology and ingredient supplies. Amendments to the current standard of identity could lead to chocolate containing vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter and milk substitutes in place of milk hitting the market and providing a greater array of alternatives to standard tastes and textures.

Related topics: R&D, Chocolate, Mars

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