France to fight EU chocolate
Agence France Presse English Wire, 4/24/96
France said Wednesday it would oppose EU proposals to allow the use of vegetable fats in chocolate, a move which threatens to slash imports from cocoa-exporting countries. "We must learn from the 'mad cow' crisis," said European Affairs Minister Michel Barnier. "Consumers demand and will increasingly demand quality, authenticity and purity in the products they consume."
The European Commission put forward proposals last week to authorise the use of up to five percent of vegetable fats, other than cocoa butter, in making chocolate. The change could have drastic consequences for the cocoa industry. EU officials said imports could fall by 120,000 to 150,000 tons per year and upset the economies of cocoa-producing Third World countries.
France will cooperate with developing nations which produce cocoa to protect the industry, and "warn the European community against any modification of the internal market rules," Barnier said. Austria, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden already sell products labelled "chocolate" which contain vegetable fats.
Under the proposal, each of the European Union's 15 member states would reserve the right to forbid their national chocolate makers from using any fat other than cocoa butter. Groups representing French chocolate makers and cocoa-producing nations have protested the proposed rule change.
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