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Chocolate Council Newsletter

July 30, 2014


FDA allergen study disrupts imported chocolate
As a part of an effort to collect data on allergens and metals, the Food and Drug Administration has been holding a substantial number of imported bulk chocolate and finished chocolate products at the border for testing. While FDA officials have asserted that the goal is not to disrupt chocolate imports, some shipments have been on hold for as many as 10 weeks. Beyond testing imported chocolate, FDA is also investigating domestic chocolate through analyzing chocolate samples from store shelves and routine food safety inspections. FDA’s Office of Compliance recently implemented a directive to study allergens in chocolate products, primarily focused on dark chocolate. The objectives of the six-month study are to characterize typical levels of allergen proteins (e.g., milk) and evaluate common allergen labeling on chocolate products. “May contain” and other similar advisory statements are of specific interest to the agency, as well as other types of allergen-related labeling language such as “dairy-free”, “kosher” and “pareve”.

NCA is currently gathering information and working with our members to respond to FDA with a goal to assist in gathering the information FDA needs in exchange for a less disruptive import testing process. If your company has been impacted, contact Laura Shumow.
New research released: Consumer Preference and Chocolate and Almonds
Working with the Almond Board of California, NCA’s Chocolate Council will co-host a webinar on August 7 on consumer preference and trends in chocolate. Among other things, the research reveals that consumers around the world report eating chocolate an average of 11 times per month. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed (65 percent) say they prefer nuts in their chocolate because nuts make chocolate products crunchier, more nutritious and more filling. Contact Jenn Ellek.
Legislation could affect chocolate and trade
There are multiple legislative trade priorities impacting cocoa and chocolate that might be dealt with jointly in a single omnibus bill toward the end of the year. NCA is watching these trade issues, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP presents an opportunity for chocolate as this free trade agreement comprises 11 other countries, mostly in southeast Asia, where there is high demand for U.S. chocolate.   

NCA is also concerned about measures that might impede cocoa imports. There is a Senate bill that would restrict the import of any commodity that is made with coerced labor, and similar language has been introduced in the House. NCA is working with both bill sponsors to minimize the possible impact to cocoa. Contact Alison Bodor.
Codex to set international standard on cadmium in cocoa
This fall Ecuador will lead an electronic working group of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food to establish limits for cadmium in cocoa products. The recommendations from this working group will be considered by the CCCF during its 2015 meeting. Although the World Health Organization has concluded that current global exposure to cadmium does not pose a health risk, cocoa-producing countries are seeking an international standard in cocoa in an effort to protect exports. Currently, the U.S. has no official limits on cadmium in cocoa products, but the EU recently established limits that will go into effect in 2019. The International Confectioners Association, led by CAOBISCO, will represent the global cocoa and chocolate industry on this working group. Contact Laura Shumow.
Chocolate Research


Attention bias for chocolate increases chocolate consumption--an attention bias modification study. – “The current study examined experimentally whether a manipulated attention bias for food cues increases craving, chocolate intake and motivation to search for hidden chocolates. Results showed that participants with higher accuracy, ate more chocolate when they had to attend to chocolate and ate less chocolate when they had to attend to non-food stimuli. In contrast, for participants with lower accuracy, the results were exactly reversed. These findings demonstrate further evidence for a link between attention for food and food intake, and provide an indication about the direction of this relationship.”

Unsweetened natural cocoa has anti-asthmatic potential. – “Unsweetened natural cocoa powder has potential anti-asthmatic properties when administered orally at the doses tested (300 mg/kg (low dose) or 600 mg/kg (high dose)).

Dark chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy in patients with peripheral artery disease. – “In peripheral artery disease patients dark but not milk chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy with a mechanism possibly related to an oxidative stress-mediated mechanism involving NOX2 regulation.”

Central arterial hemodynamic effects of dark chocolate ingestion in young healthy people: a randomized and controlled trial. – “The daily ingestion of 10 g dark chocolate (>75% cocoa) during a month significantly improves vascular function in young and healthy individuals.”

Cocoa Extracts Reduce Oligomerization of Amyloid-β: Implications for Cognitive Improvement in Alzheimer's Disease. – “Our findings indicate that cocoa extracts have multiple disease-modifying properties in AD and present a promising route of therapeutic and/or preventative initiatives.”

Dark chocolate reduces endothelial dysfunction after successive breath-hold dives in cool water. – “Antioxidants contained in dark chocolate scavenge free radicals produced during breath-hold diving. Ingestion of 30 g of dark chocolate 1 h before the dive can thus prevent endothelial dysfunction which can be observed after a series of breath-hold dives.”

Chocolate intake reduces risk of cardiovascular disease: Evidence from 10 observational studies – “we performed a systematic search of PubMed and Embase through September 2012 for relevant studies that tested the association between chocolate intake and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, or all-cause mortality… All studies showed an inverse association between chocolate intake and CVD risk, 4 of which were statistically significant.”

Regular consumption of a cocoa product improves the cardiometabolic profile in healthy and moderately hypercholesterolaemic adults. – “Regularly consuming a cocoa product with milk improves cardiovascular health by increasing HDL-C levels and inducing hypoglycaemic and anti-inflammatory effects in healthy and hypercholesterolaemic individuals without causing weight gain.”

Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. – “It appears that in acne-prone, male individuals, the consumption of chocolate correlates to an increase in the exacerbation of acne.”

Health benefits of cocoa. – “Keeping in view the pleiotropic health benefits of cocoa, it may have the potential to be used for the prevention/treatment of allergies, cancers, oxidative injuries, inflammatory conditions, anxiety, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance.”

Protective effects of dark chocolate on endothelial function and diabetes. – “The endothelium plays a pivotal role in the arterial homeostasis, and insulin resistance is the most important pathophysiological feature in various prediabetic and diabetic states. Reduced nitric oxide bioavailability with endothelial dysfunction is considered the earliest step in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Further, insulin resistance could account, at least in part, for the endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial dysfunction has been considered an important and independent predictor of future development of cardiovascular risk and events. Cocoa and flavonoids from cocoa might positively modulate these mechanisms with a putative role in cardiovascular protection.”

Chocolate--guilty pleasure or healthy supplement? – “The objectives of this review are to discuss the associations of cocoa with decreased blood pressure and improved CVD risk, to describe the possible mechanisms for these potential benefits, and to highlight considerations for the use of cocoa as a dietary supplement.”

Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. – “A systematic review was conducted to evaluate whether chocolate or its constituents were capable of influencing cognitive function and/or mood. Studies investigating potentially psychoactive fractions of chocolate were also included.”

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