The legislation for cocoa and chocolate products in Canada is found in Division 4 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for administering and enforcing the FDR and FDA. Here are some of the regulations governing cocoa and chocolate:
- Cocoa butter must be the only fat source. Chocolate sold in Canada cannot contain vegetable fats or oils.
- Chocolate must contain chocolate liquor.
- The only sweetening agents permitted in chocolate in Canada are listed in Division 18 of the Food and Drug Regulations.
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, maltitol, etc.) are not permitted.
- Milk and/or milk ingredients are permissible.
- Emulsifying agents are permissible, as are flavours such as vanilla.
Cocoa butter and sugar quantities are not defined in the regulations. Some semi-sweet chocolate may be sweeter than so-called sweet chocolate. And remember that bittersweet chocolate is not, as you might expect, sugarless. Only if the label states “unsweetened,” do you know that there is no sugar added.
Products manufactured or imported into Canada that contain non-permitted ingredients (vegetable fats or oils, artificial sweeteners) cannot legally be called chocolate when sold in Canada. A non-standardized name such as “candy” must be used.
Finally, lecithin, which is the most common emulsifying agent added to chocolate, is approved for use in chocolate in North America and Europe, but Canadian regulations state that no more than 1% can be added during the manufacturing process of chocolate. Emulsifiers like lecithin can help thin out melted chocolate so it flows evenly and smoothly. Because it is less expensive than cocoa butter at thinning chocolate, it can be used to help lower the cost. The lecithin used in chocolate is mainly derived from soy. Both GMO (genetically modified organism) and non-GMO soy lecithin are available. Check the manufacturer’s packaging and ingredient listing for the source of soy lecithin in your chocolate.