FDA: Dark Chocolate Often Not What It Seems

Unless you like milk in your dark chocolate
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2015 1:33 PM CDT
FDA: Dark Chocolate Often Not What It Seems
Dark chocolate bars are shown.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Like snacking on dark chocolate? Then we hope you're not doing it to avoid milk, because the US Food and Drug Administration tested 94 dark-chocolate bars and found milk in 61% of them, Quartz reports—including not just products with descriptions like "may contain milk" or "may contain traces of milk," but ones that claim to be vegan, dairy-free, or lactose-free. What if the label doesn't mention milk at all? Yep, the agency found milk in 33% of those cases. Of 88 bars that didn't list milk as an ingredient, 51 included milk. The FDA undertook the project after consumers complained about reacting badly to dark chocolate. Sure enough, it's hard to find a dairy-free heaven in dark-chocolate land: "This can be a problem, since even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals," a researcher tells Yahoo.

The FDA detected milk in 75% of dark-chocolate products labeled "may contain milk," "manufactured in a facility that uses milk," or similar, and found that certain products "had milk levels as high as those found in products that declared the presence of milk," the agency says, noting that consumers should "read 'may' as 'likely'" on such labels. What's more, 15% of dark-chocolate bars with labels reading "dairy-free" or "lactose-free" contained milk, as did 25% claiming to be "vegan." So what's up? Many companies make dark and milk chocolate on the same machines: "And remember, they use a lot of powdered milk products in the chocolate industry, so powder can blow, it can get stuck to equipment," an allergist tells CBS Pittsburgh. Those in dire need of milk-free dark chocolate should find "a trusted source of allergen-free chocolate," says Yahoo, which advises people to "proceed with caution." (If you're not allergic to milk, though, chow down.)

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