The Italian government and the European Union are on a collision course over the definition of pure chocolate. Pure Italian chocolate is made with 100 per cent cocoa butter. Natural flavorings and soya lecithin can be included as long as none of the ingredients is genetically modified. In addition, non-milk fats are prohibited though
added ingredients such as nuts are okay.
The EU says that Italy’s definition discriminates against foreign imports. The EU definition allows chocolate makers to use up to five percent vegetable cocoa substitutes such as palm oil and shea butter. In an unusual show of unity Italian political parties united in rejecting the EU’s labeling of chocolate.
Italy plans to apply to the European Commission to gain Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) status for pure Italian chocolate. For a product to be awarded TSG status it must be made according to traditional methods and customs.
If Italian chocolate is granted the TSG label it would be a guarantee that the chocolate contains only cocoa butter.
Chocolate is big business in Italy. The country produces more than 200,000 tons of chocolate and cocoa-based products every year with annual sales worth 350 million Euros.
Italy may be brought before the European Court of Justice over this issue which could result in large fines.