Europe shares its rich cultural heritage and traditions of producing full taste chocolate and cocoa products while keeping up with strict food safety and quality regulations.
Over the years, European manufacturers have developed deep knowledge and traditions of turning the cocoa into rich and creamy chocolate or cocoa products. This cultural heritage is now paired with high European food safety and quality standards.
A Focus on Food Safety Requirements
There is a broad spectrum of legislations that EU food manufacturers have to follow throughout all production processes. The EU has developed standards that ensure food hygiene, animal health and welfare, plant health, and control contamination from external substances.
Safety is maintained even when the production materials come from outside of the EU. Imported goods must meet the same standards and go through the same checks as food produced within the Union.
Specific Requirements for Cocoa and Chocolate Products
To ensure that manufacturers follow exceptionally high food quality standards, the EU has passed a Directive that sets specific standard rules for cocoa and chocolate products.
It determines the minimum percentage of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, cocoa powder, milk fat, or dry milk solids for particular chocolate or cocoa products. The produced products should meet the requirements of their respective product category.
Moreover, vegetable fats in the final cocoa or chocolate product should not exceed 5 %. The vegetable fats used must be cocoa butter equivalents, defined according to technical and scientific criteria.
Informative, Accurate and Correct Food Information
In addition, the EU food business operators must pay explicit attention to ensure that the consumers could rely on the given information about the products.
The business operators provide the customer with the correct name of the food product, a list of ingredients, a nutrition declaration, date of minimum durability, or the “use by” date, any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use, substances that cause allergies, quantities of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients, net quantity of the food, the name or business name and address of the food business operator, the country of origin or place of provenance, instructions for use (when it’s challenging to use the food without the instructions), a volume of alcohol (if it exceeds 1,2 %).
Moreover, the EU Directive relating to cocoa and chocolate products for human consumption has specified the information about chocolate and other cocoa products that manufacturers must reveal in addition to the general requirements:
- EU manufacturers must indicate the total dry cocoa solids content on the labels of their products.
- Non-fat and reduced-fat cocoa and powdered chocolate labels must reveal the cocoa butter content.
- If vegetable fats are in the final product, its’ labeling must bear the statement “contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter.” This statement should be in the same field of vision as the list of ingredients, clearly separated from that list.
Finally, based on the Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods, the use of nutrition or health claims is only permitted when the subject of the claim is present, absent, or reduced in food in such a way that produces the nutritional or physiological effect.
Assortment of Chocolate and Other Food Preparation Containing Cocoa
Chocolate boxes (including assorted chocolates)
Chocolate with filling
Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods
Directive relating to cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption
Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers