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Taiwan planning to set standard for chocolate

Taiwan planning to set standard for chocolate

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Taiwan's food authorities are planning to set a clear-cut definition for chocolate, so that no product can be described as chocolate if it does not match the proposed definition. There are currently no national standards for chocolate in Taiwan, Hsueh Fu-chin (???), a deputy division chief at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Monday. "There is no definition from the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI), or from the FDA." However, there is a wide spectrum of chocolate products in the Taiwan market, and chocolate is a favorite among teenagers and children, Hsueh said while trying to explain to the media why it is necessary to set standards for chocolate. According to the definition set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, chocolate (in some regions also named bittersweet chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate or "chocolat fondant") shall contain, on a dry matter basis, not less than 35 percent total cocoa solids, of which not less than 18 percent shall be cocoa butter and not less than 14 percent fat-free cocoa solids. Hsueh said the FDA is planning to convene a meeting of experts and scholars by the end of October for discussions on the proposal to set local standards for chocolate, based on international criteria. The FDA is seeking a set of national standards that can be applied to chocolate and chocolate products, and is hoping that the BSMI can put forward such standards, she said, noting that if the bureau does not do so, the FDA will set the standards by itself. Relevant businesses will be invited to attend the planned meeting, which will eventually decide how to define and name chocolate products, according to Hsueh. To protect consumers' rights and interests, the names of food products must faithfully represent their nature, the official said, adding that the new regulations on chocolate and chocolate products will be enforced before the end of the year at the earliest. Once the new regulations are implemented, businesses that fail to correctly label their products will face fines under the law, Hsueh said. Taiwan Confectionery, Biscuit and Floury Food Industry Association Chief Executive Chen Chao-yang (???) said in a report published in the Liberty Times Monday that he had received the FDA's invitation to the planned meeting of experts, and that he will attend, because the matter "will affect an industry worth more than NT$4 billion (US$1.24 billion)." Urging the FDA to listen more carefully to voices from the industry, Chen said that matters regarding the naming and labeling of chocolate and chocolate products are "a big issue." Chocolatier Yang Yung-fu (???), who teaches at the Keelung-based Ching Kuo Institute of Management and Health, was cited by the newspaper as saying that the majority of chocolate products marketed in Taiwan contain less than 1 percent cocoa, the raw material of chocolate. Such products are usually made with animal fat, a replacement for cocoa butter, Yang was quoted as saying, adding that if the FDA sets a standard for chocolate, the labeling for most chocolate products on the market will have to be changed. Noting that European countries apply strict standards for chocolate, Yang said that "in France, if the percentage of chocolate fails to meet standards, it can only be called candy." (By Lung Pei-ning and Elizabeth Hsu)