Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA News Item, 1 August 2003

COMPOSITIONAL STANDARDS - Guidance issued on new chocolate regulations

(For a copy of the Guidance Notes, go to the FSA web site at:

Detailed guidance notes to accompany new Cocoa and Chocolate Product Regulations have been published by the Food Standards Agency. The new guidance notes attempt to provide advice on the detailed rules on chocolate and chocolate products for the first time.

The regulations come into force separately in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on 3 August 2003. Welsh regulations will follow in the autumn.

The guidance aims to provide practical advice for businesses and enforcement bodies with the aim of achieving a more consistent application and enforcement of the regulations.

About the regulations

The new regulations implement EC Directive 2000/36, which relates to cocoa and chocolate products and was adopted throughout Europe and published in June 2000. Members States had 36 months to bring the new rules into force on 3 August 2003.

The new harmonised rules reserve sales names to cocoa and chocolate products that meet prescribed compositional standards. They also require the products to be labelled with those names and with specified declarations.

"Good news for consumers"

Successful negotiations by the Agency mean that the Regulations do not represent a significant change from current rules. This is good news for UK consumers who will be able to continue to buy the products they know and like. In a hard fought battle the UK secured the right to continue to make milk chocolate to its own traditional recipe, which contains less cocoa and has a higher milk content and is the taste preferred by UK consumers.

When sold elsewhere in the EU such milk chocolate will have to be labelled as 'family milk chocolate' in order to help distinguish it from milk chocolate made in the rest of Europe.

The new rules also continue to permit the addition of up to 5% vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in chocolate, but such addition will need to be indicated by a separate declaration: 'Contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter.'
The guidance notes describe the main requirements of the new regulations and set out the major differences between the new regulations and those in operation since 1976.

They also provide practical examples and cocoa and milk content calculations for typical chocolate products that might be covered by the regulations.

The guidance notes have been produced with the aim of providing informal, non-statutory advice and the text should not be taken as an authoritative statement or interpretation of the law as only the courts have this power.

The relevant regulation numbers are:

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