Chocolate turns into a sticky issue

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The Independent Online

European bureaucrats and not modern technology may be threatening traditional British chocolate, a confectionery scientist said yesterday.

British chocolate is making inroads to the European market, said Peter Ashby, the manager of applied sciences at Nestle's research centre, particularly "centres enroled in chocolate", like Lion Bars and Kit-kats. Lion Bars are the largest selling product of their type in France and Kit-kat is available across Europe, he said.

But despite this, there is a threat from the European Commission to rule that traditional British chocolate is not really chocolate at all. Since the 1920s, British manufacturers have been using a limited amount of non- cocoa fat in their products - less than 5 per cent - whereas European confectioners wholly use cocoa-butter.

It is not possible to make chocolate today by the same methods and with the same equipment used in 1910, Dr Ashby said, but the manufacturers' aim has been to ensure that new processes do not alter traditional tastes.

Dr Ashby added: "When you have an existing brand, people like it the way it is and it's difficult to get people to like something new."

However, the issue of whether to allow British chocolate to keep the name is still unresolved in Brussels, Dr Ashby said.