EU Nations OK Chocolate Compromise
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ European Union nations gave final approval today to new rules on what products may be marketed as chocolate, lifting a 30-year old ban on the sale of British milk chocolate on the European continent.
The compromise agreement on the new regulations came after years of bitter debate on what ingredients may be used in products sold as chocolate.
European Parliamentarians had approved the new rules in March.
The new regulations will allow products with as much as five percent vegetable fats other than cocoa butter to be called chocolate. Traditional British chocolate, which contains less cocoa and more vegetable fats, will now be widely available in the rest of the EU. The British version is also cheaper.
Both Belgium and the Netherlands had initially voted against the new regulation last October when the compromise proposal was approved for the first time.
The majority of the 15 EU nations, including Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden, all allow other vegetable fats in their chocolate products.
Chocolate products will carry clear labels listing what they contain. Packages of chocolate containing non-cocoa fats will have to state it on the wrapping. British milk chocolate will be called ``Family Milk Chocolate″ in the rest of the EU.
EU spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber said the new rules would give consumers and producers greater choice.
Continental chocolate purists have vehemently argued against British imports of milk chocolate on the European market, saying it is an inferior product.
They argued that if a ban did not exist, the European Union would be flooded with cheaper diluted chocolate.
The new law will also seek to promote ``fair trade″ with developing countries who produce the majority of cocoa exported to the EU as compensation. Cocoa producing countries fear the new law will cause a drop in consumption of cocoa.