Could you tell the difference between all the different seemingly Vegan friendly chocolate options there are? The chocolate experts at Hames break it down for you.
Lets start with what does it all mean? Well simply put, there is no harmonised definition, agreement or regulation of what constitutes Vegan chocolate. It’s a huge and controversial topic.
Here's a general understanding:
Chocolate suitable for Vegetarians – This is chocolate is made with ingredients that can include, milk, milk products, honey and egg
Chocolate suitable for Vegans – This chocolate does not include ingredients such as dairy, honey and eggs (does not mean though it is suitable for individuals suffering from milk allergy or lactose intolerance)
Plant based chocolate – Similar to Vegan, products are made from plants only, no animal ingredients.
May Contain Milk Statements:
So why do most chocolate manufacturers use precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) such as May contain milk: May contain traces of milk and similar statements on products that are suitable for Vegans and on Plant Based Chocolates?
The CIEH UK define a trace allergen as “allergens present that are not ingredients”
The ingredients label on the product list all the ingredients in a chocolate product recipe, where as Precautionary Allergen Labelling takes into account via a risk assesment the possible cross contamination risks of ingredients that it has not been possible to completely eliminate within the factory and the supply chain.
Chocolate processors use a combination of ingredients on site to make chocolate including (but not limited to) sugar, cocoa products, flavourings, milk and emulsifiers. The chocolate is produced on shared lines and as chocolate is a fat-based product, water is not used during product switches. In addition, cocoa products can be cross contaminated by air borne dairy powders. This results in the unavoidable and involuntary presence of milk due to cross contact.
Neither the International Codex Alimentarius, nor European legislation provide additional guidance regarding the unavoidable and involuntary presence of milk due to cross contact, nor on labelling requirements related to vegan or vegetarian products.
This means that from an allergy perspective the chocolate is not suitable for persons who have dairy (milk) allergy or are lactose intolerant.
So what does this mean?
Chocolate that is labelled Vegan, Vegan Friendly, Plant Based, Vegan Chocolate, Dark Chocolate are not suitable for individuals suffering from milk allergy or lactose intolerance.
Vegan, Vegan Friendly, Plant Based, Vegan Chocolate, Dark Chocolate is not the same as Dairy Free Chocolate. Only Dairy Free Chocolate, made in a dedicated dairy free chocolate factory with dedicated dairy free supply chains would ideally supply Dairy Free Chocolate.