HC Deb 29 January 1996 vol 270 cc522-3W
Mr. Bayley

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the European Commission to publish its new draft directive on chocolate; and if he will make it his policy to oppose proposals from the Commission to(a) reduce the proportion of vegetable fat currently permitted in United Kingdom chocolate and (b) require chocolate manufactured in the United Kingdom to be described on its packaging as anything other than chocolate. [9949]

Mrs. Browning

I understand that the European Commission hopes to issue soon a formal proposal to replace the 1973 Cocoa and Chocolate Products Directive.

British manufacturers make a wide variety of high quality chocolate products, many of which include a small addition of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter, so as to meet the full range of consumer tastes and expectations both in this country and elsewhere. This has had the effect of expanding the chocolate market, securing jobs at home and increasing demand for cocoa and other products on which the economies of many developing countries are heavily dependent.

The Government will therefore vigorously oppose any proposal which seeks to reduce the diversity of chocolate formulations which may he marketed freely within the European Community or which seeks to prohibit the use of the name chocolate on products containing the traditional mixture of cocoa butter and other vegetable fats.