This ran in yesterday’s Crikey‘s “Tips and Rumours“:

From Cadbury’s website: “Real chocolate is made from cocoa and its ingredients include cocoa butter, an expensive part of the cocoa bean. Compound chocolate is made, instead, with vegetable oils and doesn’t have the same fine qualities.” So, is their new recipe which includes vegetable oils as well as cocoa butter a compound chocolate rather than milk chocolate? Or maybe they’ve invented a whole new variety! Are there any experts out there in Crikeyland who can shed some light on this?

Today, another tipster writes:

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As the owner of a flavour and fragrance company with some 30 years in the industry — a supplier to Cadbury-Schweppes (hence anonymity requested) — and specialising in ingredients for chocolate manufacturers, I’d say you’re about right.

“Real chocolate” doesn’t use vegetable oil.

However, I can find no mention of this in the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand.

In 2006, the US FDA was lobbied by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (on behalf of the Chocolate Makers’ Association) to allow vegetable fats and oils to be used “as appropriate” in chocolate.

Currently I believe the FDA does not permit a product containing vegetable oils to be labelled as “chocolate”.

So, in Australia it’s caveat emptor as usual (that’s Latin for “open slather”).

Cadbury operates in the mass market, and is always under pressure to keep costs down. 5% vegetable oil would add up to substantial savings on cocoa butter and is something their class of customer wouldn’t notice. It’s probably as much as they’ve found they can get away with.

Principal determinants of chocolate quality are:

  • Purity of ingredients (no cost-cutting compromises) — top quality cacao beans, natural vanilla flavour etc.
  • “Conching” time (smoothness comes from the grinding time of the liquid chocolate — 24 hours for mass-market, up to 72 hours for those who care)
  • “Real chocolate” has a glossy appearance, and a distinct “snap”. The “snap” comes from tempering the chocolate as it cools — vegetable oils interfere with the crystallisation of the (beta-)cocoa butter.
  • The thing about cocoa butter is that its melting point is 35-37 degrees C (about body temperature), so it melts pleasantly in the mouth.
  • (For similar reasons it is a favoured base for suppositories — something your readers may feel is “too much information”.)

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