The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified the revised standards for chocolates, and brought two more chocolates – praline and couverture – under the standard product category.
The new standards permit the use of vegetable oil, which was not permitted earlier. However, the use of vegetable fat other than cocoa butter is allowed internationally. Therefore, in line with the international and CODEX norms, the new standards for chocolate have been revised.
The new standards published in the gazette notification stated, “The addition of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter shall not exceed five per cent of the finished product, after deduction of the total weight of any other added edible foodstuffs, without reducing the minimum contents of cocoa materials.”
“The product may contain Isomaltulose at 50 per cent (maximum) of the total sugars without adversely affecting the stability of the product, and the material shall be free from rancidity or of odour, insect and fungus infestation, filth, adulterants and any harmful or injurious matter,” it added.
The new standards will now be applicable to ten types of chocolate, including praline chocolate and couverture chocolate. The others are milk chocolate, milk covering chocolate, plain chocolate, plain covering chocolate, blended chocolate, white chocolate, white chocolate filled chocolate and composite chocolate.
In addition, the chocolate may contain one or more of the substances, namely edible salts, spices and condiments and their extracts, vitamins and minerals, permitted emulsifying and stabilising agents, permitted sequestering and buffering agents.
The gazette prescribed the nature of vegetable fats permitted for the purpose. It stated, “The vegetable fat may be singly or in blends.
The following vegetable fats, obtained from the plants, may be used – sal (Shorea robusta), kokum gurgi (Garcinia indica), mango kernel (Mangifera indica), palm oil (Elaeis guineensis and Elaeis olifera), mahua oil (Bassia latifolia or B longifolia), Dhupa fat (Vateria indica), Phulwara fat (Madhuca butyracea) and Dharambe fat (Garcinia cambogia) as cocoa butter equivalents.
Rashmi Kolhe, director, D’Armonia Consulting, said, “The permission to add vegetable fat upto five per cent is a very welcome move from FSSAI.”
“Internationally, it was a practice to add a small amount of vegetable fat. Until now, it was a big challenge to import chocolate with vegetable fats, as it was not compliant with the definition of chocolate under FSSAI regulations,” she added.
Kolhe said, “All the cocoa products, including cocoa butter, are imported in our country. Cocoa butter is a high-value ingredient, and its consistent supply is always a challenge.”
“The quality of vegetable fat to be used as a cocoa butter substitute is also specifed by FSSAI. Plant sources of such vegetable fat include mango kernel, kokam gurgi, mahua oil, Phulwara fat, etc.,” she added.
“Most of these raw materials are grown in India. Moreover, mango kernel-like products are waste and can be utilised very well for such highly specialised fat manufacturing.It opens new opportunities in waste utilisation as well as new applications,” Kolhe stated.
“With upto five per cent vegetable fat inclusion, the product cost will relatively go down, adding significantly to the profit margins, especially of companies having a large turnover. However, it will not allow product handling outside the cold chain,” she added.
Kolhe informed, “A special labelling declaration, as required by this regulation, may not be useful for consumers. They may get confused after reading it.”
Devansh Ashar, partner, Pascati Foods India LLP, said, “The new standard issued by the FSSAI on allowing five per cent vegetable fat in chocolate would compromise on the quality of chocolate produced. It may reduce the cost, but it will also offer the end consumer with an inferior product.”
Bindu Naik, consultant, said, “As India is a developing country, quality comes later, with the priority being the cost of the product.”
“When the modified or tailor-made vegetable oil will be used in place of cocoa butter, it is obvious that the cost of the product is reduced. That will create more consumers for its product. Use of five per cent of vegetable oil in chocolate may not affect its quality much,” she added.
It also stated that in case of chocolates which contain vegetable fats other than cocoa butter, the line ‘contains vegetable fat in addition to cocoa butter’ should be mentioned on the label.
The set regulations will be called Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Fourth Amendment Regulations, 2017, and will come into effect from January 1, 2018.