The main issue on which agreement has now been reached is the way in which manufacturers should be allowed to make small additions of specialised non-cocoa vegetable fats, presently permitted in seven out of the fifteen Member States. After the European Parliament decision in Strasbourg today, all types of chocolate will be freely traded across Europe. For the first time the milkier formulation of British Milk Chocolate will be recognised throughout Europe, although on the continent it will be called "family milk chocolate".
Joyce Quin said:
"I am delighted that this important Directive has at last been agreed to the satisfaction of all concerned and that UK interests and concerns have been met. Chocolate is very important not just to the UK but to all European consumers. The Directive permits all traditional and new products to be freely marketed and gives credibility to the Single Market. Consumers have the final say on which products they buy, and we will have a market where manufacturers can offer consumers the widest possible choice of products."
The Parliament adopted the Council's Common Position subject to two minor amendments. Formal adoption of the Directive is subject to final approval by Council. The existing 1973 Chocolate Directive allows UK, Ireland, Denmark Sweden, Finland, Portugal and Austria to add up to 5 per cent of vegetable fat other than cocoa butter to chocolate. It also allows UK and Ireland to sell in their countries a product labelled as "milk chocolate" with higher milk and lower cocoa content than "milk chocolate" made and sold in the rest of the Community.
The new Directive permits chocolate containing up to a maximum of 5% vegetable fats to be freely marketed in each Member State. The addition of vegetable fats required for technical reasons, is in addition to the required cocoa solids (same as in the existing Directive). A separate declaration "contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter". The location of the statement would be in the same field of vision as the ingredients list and near the name of the food. The vegetable fats used are restricted to six tropical plant sources, which reflect the fats already in use.
The Directive would continue to permit UK and Irish "milk chocolate" made to a different recipe to be called "milk chocolate, but, if exported, would have be labelled "family milk chocolate".