by Marion Nestle
Jul 23 2010

Latest food safety challenge: chocolate yogurt

I never cease to be amazed by the problems that food technologists worry about. 

A German chocolate company—and the state of Schleswig-Holstein—are funding $2 million worth of research to find a method to safely add chocolate pieces to yogurt.

Why is the safety of chocolate in yogurt a problem?  Yogurt is wet and dissolves the sugar crystals in chocolate, making it messy.  Worse, chocolate is not sterile and yogurt is an ideal bacterial growth medium.

Sterilizing chocolate, it seems, is not easy:

The constituents of the cocoa are very sensitive. Excessively high temperatures and incorrect cleaning, roasting, grinding or conching impair the quality of the finished chocolate pieces. All that has to be taken into account when you are developing new sterilisation techniques.

Researchers, get busy!  Please, please solve this problem right away.

And in the meantime, for those of you desperate for chocolate in your yogurt, how about tossing in a handful of M&Ms?

  • Bobby

    Cutting edge food science, this is sure to get considered for the nobel in a few years. Because this could save the world! Imagine, chocolate… in yogurt! Finally the one of the worlds greatest scientific problems will be solved. Go corporate food scientists! You know you are making a difference. Can world peace be far off now?

  • bucknelldad

    Stoneyfield, the organic yogurt maker, has had an excellent chocolate yogurt for many years. What do they know that others don’t?

  • Anthro

    We are all laughing, but you can bet that they wouldn’t be doing this if there weren’t millions to be made if they succeed! Have you all noticed how extensive the single-serving yogurt section has become at the supermarket? Yet there is hardly a “plain” yogurt anywhere in the mix. Sweetened, flavored yogurt has found a very lucrative niche as a “healthy” snack. It has long been associated with health and longevity (which has no basis in fact, even in its unadulterated form). Marketers have used this vague association to maximum benefit.


    While buying dog food the other day, I was (quite literally) accosted by some guy in an apron bearing his company’s logo (a “natural” brand) who tried, remorselessly, to get me to buy his brand instead of the one already in my basket. I said I would buy any dog food in a minute that would state the calories on the bag. He pointed to the “guaranteed analysis” and I pointed him to Marion’s new book!
    I quoted all I could remember and wished I’d had a copy with me. He went on and on about all the dubious supplements added to the dog food he was peddling with lots of anecdotes about formerly-limping dogs. When I replied that anecdotes were not evidence, he just looked puzzled.

    He was a NICE man and claimed to be a “vet nutritionist”, but I stayed with my usual dog food as it is higher in protein, lower in fat, has fewer supplements and at least posts calories at the website, although in a very confusing manner! His explanation for the protein difference was that my brand uses corn as a primary ingredient and his brand does not. He said corn is “hard to digest”. I said I’d look into it.

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  • Odd. I never would have anticipated this particular problem! (Plus, yogurt is sour and sour chocolate is Wrong Wrong Wrong, so I never would have imagined anyone would WANT chocolate in yogurt.)

  • JudyThomas

    I love yogurt. I love chocolate. The mix sounds gross. But anything to get out a new product and get some “market share” eh?

  • devotchka

    There are already yogurts available with add-ins like M&Ms or Nestle Crunch chocolate pieces … they just package the candy in a space divided from the yogurt, and the person eating it is to mix them together when ready to eat. Why do we need this particular research again??

  • Gillian

    What about tossing in choc chips instead of M&Ms? Wouldn’t there be less sugar?

  • Oh Joy! Just what we need, another attempt to adulterate a not sweetened food such as yogurt with sugar sugar sugar. People who really are dying for chocolate aren’t eating yogurt, and people should not delude themselves that yogurt remains a wholesome and wise breakfast or snack choice once chocolate has been added. Let’s be honest, chocolate turns yogurt into dessert.

  • Emily

    All these crazy sweetened yogurts put me in mind of things like those insane syrup “coffee” drinks and wine coolers. Please stop mucking about with things so they’re more palatable to you! I don’t actually want my green tea (yogurt/coffee/whole wheat bread) to taste like pomegranate (chocolate/watermelon/Koolaid). I’d like it to taste like green tea (yogurt/coffee/whole wheat bread), if you please. Here’s my advice: if you don’t like something, don’t eat (or drink) it.

  • GrandArch

    A few commentators above have mentioned the chocolate yogurts in the US – Stoneyfield, a Trader Joe’s yogurt, etc. But I’m wondering if this is a mislabelling that’s not permitted in Europe – the US chocolates have dutch-process cocoa in them. They don’t have chunks of chocolate. In France, we see chocolate yogurts much like mousses (albeit with less fat and sugar than mousse or American yogurt). Still, I’m not sure what the difference is.

    On this topic, can someone explain why yogurt in the US is so sour and acidic? European yogurts tend to be a lot less sour without adding nearly as much in the way of sugar. This is even the case with grass-fed cowsmilk yogurt.

  • synthetic

    M & M s are a poor suggestion… they have trans fats…

    whole foods does send an M & M like candy with out the hydrogenated oil