The Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) at the JRC said that their analytical method to detect and quantify so-called cocoa-butter equivalents (CBEs) in milk chocolate has been adopted as standard ISO 11053:2009 following a two year peer review process.
A spokesperson for the JRC told ConfectioneryNews.com that the ISO adoption means the IRMM testing tool has been recognised at international level and can help manufacturers ensure their brands are less susceptible to fraudulent practices.
The EU Chocolate Directive allows the addition of up to five per cent of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in chocolate products and consumers must be informed of their inclusion by appropriate labelling on the product.
But, according to the JRC scientists, enforcement of the legislation was difficult prior to the existence of their method as vegetable fats are difficult to quantify or detect due to their chemical composition and physical properties resembling that of cocoa butter.
They claim that this fact left the door open for disputes and uncertainty as to whether or not milk chocolate products fulfilled legal requirements.
And the scientists added that their method for milk chocolate took longer to develop than their analytical tools for dark chocolate because of the increased complexity of the measurement as the milk fats in milk chocolate interfere with vegetable fats.
The JRC spokesperson said that in order to help the chocolate industry ensure that its raw material supplies are unadulterated and for analytical chemists to implement the testing methods for chocolate products correctly, JRC has a set of toolboxes describing the method, which can be downloaded here.