"Chocolate in its purest state - the "liquor" made from ground, processed cacao beans - must contain between 50 percent and 60 percent cocoa butter, also known as cocoa fat.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Chocolate Manufacturers Association and 10 other food industry groups want more flexibility in those rigid standards. They seek broad permission to add ingredients, use different techniques, employ new shapes and substitute ingredients - something the standards currently don't allow.
"Manufacturers already can use vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter - they just can't call it "chocolate." Hundreds of people have filed comments with the FDA, with the overwhelming majority seeking to keep it that way, according to an Associated Press review of the file.
"But the shift would make chocolate cheaper to produce, since cocoa butter can be four or more times the cost of shea, palm oil and other vegetable fats.
"If you're able to replace cocoa butter with another fat, even at the 5 percent level, you're saving lots and lots of money, especially if you are a major manufacturer of chocolate bars," said Bernard Pacyniak, editor in chief of Candy Industry magazine. ... But Gary Guittard, the president of California's Guittard Chocolate Co and others question that and said any change would debase the very nature of chocolate.
"This incremental degradation of foods over the years - it's a degradation that comes from wanting to make it for less money. We're always trying to make a little more money, and that I think is the problem," said Guittard."