Cadbury is worried about the carbon footprint of its chocolate. This strikes me as being in the same boat as worrying about the greenhouse emissions of a submachine gun. I guess it’s a concern but isn’t it missing the point?

Apparently the “glass and a half of full cream milk” is responsible for 60% of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the construction of a family block of Dairy Milk Chocolate. But don’t worry, Cadbury plan to feed the cows more clover so they burp less and give them less fibre so they … (well, you get the picture). All of this feed manipulation will result in a carbon emission reduction of 50% by 2020. I do hope Kevin is paying attention.

Cadbury have also decided that they should look out for the lactose intolerant among us with a very clear warning. From now on Dairy Milk Chocolate will come with a warning label: “CONTAINS MILK”. I’m so glad they bothered.

But that’s not the end of the image management. Cocoa has a bit of a bad rap because lately people have noticed that most of it gets picked by children who are paid little or nothing for their efforts. So Cadbury plan get themselves a Fairtrade logo by the end of August 2009, but only for chocolate on sale in the UK. Australian consumers clearly aren’t fussy about such things. So the cocoa used in Australian Cadbury products will continue to exploit third world children.

You may be wondering about the motivation for this flurry of positive spin (at least in the UK). Cadbury have created a billion dollar empire off the back of a product that is 55.5% sugar and 29.5% fat.

More than half of their product is as addictive as hard drugs and has been unequivocally proven to cause obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease. I’m struggling to think of a food that could be more dangerous for human consumption. So far they’ve gotten away with convincing us all it’s a harmless treat and that if it happens to make us fat, it’s our fault for being so weak willed.

Are we really expected to believe they’ve gone all tree-huggy and grown a conscience? No, the far more likely explanation is that all this work is aimed at making us feel a bit better about chocolate. The hope being that, when folks like Dr Walker call for a chocolate tax, right thinking people will quietly point him and his ilk to Cadbury’s impeccable green credentials and responsible labelling.

Dr Walker is a British GP who wants governments to become our nanny and stop us eating chocolate. It’s a silly proposal and it got voted down by the British Medical Association (by only two votes), but it’s indicative of a distinctly anti-chocolate mood that is gathering pace in old blighty.

We don’t need warnings about milk on our milk chocolate, but we do need warnings like these:

CONTAINS SUGAR: WILL MAKE YOU OBESE AND GIVE YOU TYPE II DIABETES.

CONTAINS FAT: WILL HELP THE SUGAR MAKE YOU OBESE.

CONTAINS COCOA: HARVESTED BY CHILDREN FOR LITTLE OR NO PAY.

Let’s stop worrying about flatulent cows and start worrying about exploited children in Africa and fat children here.

David Gillespie is a lawyer and author of Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat (Penguin).

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