Barry Callebaut and Chocolaterie de l'Opera in chocolate recall

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Dark chocolate has been recalled for exceeding EU BaP and PHA limits
Dark chocolate has been recalled for exceeding EU BaP and PHA limits

Related tags Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon

Chocolate made by Barry Callebaut for Chocolaterie de l'Opera has prompted a warning in more than 15 countries due to levels of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exceeding EU limits.

Chocolaterie de l'Opera said as a future measure it would more closely monitor the PAH from the source.

Barry Callebaut said it followed the customer recipe and none of its other products are affected.

EU regulation

Analytical results found BaP in 18.1 µg/kg (microgram/kg) - ppb and PAH in 73.7 µg/kg - ppb in the dark chocolate bar (62%, 70% cocoa) manufactured in Spain, with raw material from Indonesia.

EU regulation on BaP stipulate that 5 micrograms per kilogram of the chocolate’s fat is the maximum amount allowed, for the sum of PAH it is 30 micrograms/kg fat.

PAHs can occur during processing such as smoking, roasting, baking, drying and grilling.

Some of the chemical compounds have been linked to concern for human health. Within the EU 16 PAHs need to be monitored.

Barry Callebaut & Chocolaterie de l'Opera respond

A Barry Callebaut spokesman said the issue is linked to a single batch produced for a customer in a ‘very small’ quantity.

“It follows a bespoke customer recipe, produced from a raw material supplied by the customer through a customer-appointed third party. It is not linked to any other products produced or delivered by Barry Callebaut. It was put onto the market by the customer,” ​he told FoodQualityNews. 

“As expected, our own internal investigation has confirmed that the handling in our Spanish manufacturing plant has in no way contributed to the contamination.

“We have a surveillance program in place for PAH. This very specific third-party product was not singled out/detected in the surveillance.” 

Chocolaterie de l'Opera told FQN the level of PAH in chocolate comes from the cocoa beans and not the manufacturing process.

It’s linked to the soil of the country of origin of the cocoa beans but also by the drying method used by the cocoa planter.

The firm said the batch of cocoa beans was bought through a wholesaler and only two small batches of chocolate exceeded the limit set by EU regulation. It was produced in early 2015 (less than 10,000kg).

All our customers have been informed about this issue, a recall procedure was immediately undertaken and is about to be concluded in France and worldwide. As a future countermeasure, we have decided to more closely monitor the PAH from this specific origin,” ​said the firm.

In Hong Kong, dark chocolate bar 70% cocoa minimum 1kg per pack (five packs per box with a total weight of 5kg) and best before date February 27, 2017 was affected.

A spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said it had followed up with the importer concerned, Foodgears Industrial International, and 16 boxes of the affected product (80kg) had been imported.

Some of the product had been supplied to a hotel, while the remaining stock of eight boxes had been voluntarily surrendered by the importer to the CFS for disposal.

Chocolate was sent to Belgium, Canada, France, Indonesia, Italy, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE and the UK, according to RASFF.

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