Thursday, April 19, 2007

Don't Mess With Our Chocolate

Time's running out. I wish I had known about this sooner, and that I had been able to post about it when Hans gave it to me a couple of days ago. Guittard Chocolate has a campaign running called Don't Mess With Our Chocolate.

Here's the basic concept. American chocolate standards are apparently stricter than I personally thought they were. Like many food products, there is a legal definition of what can be called chocolate in our country, which has been set up to protect us, the consumers. Certain members of the US chocolate industry have decided that they would like that legal definition to be relaxed, so that they can replace high quality ingredients such as cocoa butter and real sugar with cheaper, and much lower quality ingredients at our expense. To me this is like American farmers asking to replace the natural flavors and sugars of fresh fruits with artificial flavors and sweeteners. I can't think of any way to more effectively ruin a perfectly good apple, or pefectly good chocolate.

Guittard didn't need to take a stand on this. From the looks of things, the new legal definition wouldn't require chocolate manufacturers to change their recipes, it would just allow them to. Guittard could have profited from this new legal change. They could have used it as an opportunity to save money on their chocolate by producing an inferior product as well. Even if they maintained the same high quality standards that they have now, this change would allow them to promote themselves based on their adherance to higher quality practices than everbody else. But they didn't do that. They decided to try and educate the public on what I'm sure most of the rest of the US chocolate industry had no intention of telling us, so that we could have the opportunity to stand up for our rights and beliefs.

I hope that Guittard's efforts won't be in vain. The US chocolate industry seeks to legally mislead us with an inferior product, and we need to stop them. American chocolate has struggled with credibility in Europe for decades, and has only recently found acceptance in a place known for their high standards of quality. The US chocolate industry seeks to destroy that newfound respect at home and abroad, just to make an extra buck. Their efforts will benefit nothing but their profits.

Please take a moment to head over to Guittard's campaign site and click the link on "How to Help". We have until April 25th to let the FDA know that we won't stand for this. It's time to stand up for youselves and let it be known that we as Americans care about quality, and that we will not be duped or taken advantage of by greedy chocolatiers.

7 comments:

  1. Changing chocolate standards scare me. Hershey's and Nestle already don't taste that good.

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  2. Thanks for posting this - it never ceases to amaze me that corporations in our country can be so evil.

    That said, this begs a few questions, the biggest one for me is: do I really care if a company wants to start making chocolate with corn syrup? Those that don't care about or appreciate *good* chocolate probably wont notice regardless. And who knows, maybe since fewer of these companies are using real sugar, the price of real sugar will drop, meaning the manufacturers of *good* chocolate can offer us their wares at lower prices. :P I don't know. I guess I am not too worried that those that make the good chocolate are going to lower their standards, so it doesn't really affect me too much.

    In fact, the more I think about this, the more I am wondering if I really care...I don't eat most of the crap that currently passes for 'chocolate' and this will not change that fact. I would be interested in your thoughts on these questions/ideas. I like to play the devil's advocate once in a while, and this just seems like a good one to think about.

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  3. You know, I should probably read everything before I post. :P

    I assumed that they would, at the least, want to start using corn syrup in the 'new' formula - guess I was off on that (although I don't doubt some would welcome that change as well; that crap is already in nearly everything else we eat).

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  4. The issue of quality is not the only one in question here. There is also an issue of honesty. Do you really think that these companies have their marketing departments getting together new wrappers that say, "now with real high-fructose corn syrup and/or saccarin instead of sugar"? I imagine that while they will likely be required to list those ingredients, they will downplay them as much as possible.

    It's not just a matter of chocolate, either. The FDA giving the chocolate industry permission to legally lower their quality would send a message not only to chocolatiers, but to every company that they deal with that says, "yes, lowering the quality standards of our food industries is perfectly acceptable." Is this the message that you want sent?

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  5. "It's not just a matter of chocolate, either. The FDA giving the chocolate industry permission to legally lower their quality would send a message not only to chocolatiers, but to every company that they deal with that says, 'yes, lowering the quality standards of our food industries is perfectly acceptable.' Is this the message that you want sent?"

    No, that isn't the message that I want sent. However, I think that has already been done by the decades of abuse that the FDA and such companies have participated in -

    "Let's replace real butter with hydrogenated oil; we will call it 'margarine!'"

    "Oh, I know - let's replace sugar with something cheaper for us and worse for you: corn syrup!"

    "Hey, no one seems to like MSG - let's get the FDA to allow us to include it in the ingredient list as 'natural flavor' or 'artificial flavor' or 'autolysed yeast' etc. etc. ad nauseum so that no one knows about it!"

    The list could go on. What I am getting at is, no one that cares would think this as a ground-shaking change in the modus operandi of the FDA and the greedy corporations that ply it with money to get the rules changed.

    Personally, I couldn't care less what the FDA has to say about anything, because I see that agency for what it is - evil incarnate. They are no more of a watchdog group for our health than McDonalds. Controlled by special interest groups and idiots, they might as well be non-existent. Consumers need to be educated and not rely on the FDA. It is a sad truth, but true nonetheless.

    Regardless of all that rot gut, I do agree with the fact that the standards shouldn't change for the sake of the uninformed - we don't want people knowing any less about chocolate than the masses already do.

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  6. I can't be sure but I believe that Hershey's has changed the formula for their syrup they no longer say Chocolate instead they say "Genuine Chocolate Flavor" it looks different as it pours and tasted like crap.

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  7. Yes I concur with rwars. Hershey's syrup has changed. It is thinner and now makes my milk taste like sweet sugar, barely a hint of chocolate. Even when I pour 1/4 the bottle in a tall glass to get the color dark - it still tastes just sweet and not the chocolatey milk that I have been drinking for 20 years. And don't get me started on Ovaltine - what a powdered piece of crack that is now. I understand that companies want to reduce costs - but not at the expense of quality!!! Now it tastes worst than Safeway generic chocolate syrup. Crap - I am done using Hershey's (after 20 fricken years). Can anyone recommend another QUALITY substitute? thanks.

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