by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Chocolate

Feb 14 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day: Chocolate is price-fixed?

With perfect timing for the romantic occasion, federal investigators are looking into the possibility that Big Food is fixing chocolate prices, and in three different countries yet.  The allegations?  “Top executives at Hershey Co., Mars, and Nestle [no relation] met secretly in coffee shops, restaurants and conventions to set prices.”   Although, as I discussed in Food Politics, it seems obvious from supermarket prices that such things must go on all the time, price-fixing is illegal.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jan 15 2008

Oh no! Chocolate-eating linked to weak bones?

Ordinarily I don’t pay too much attention to studies of single foods or nutrients on health because so many of them are “nutri-fluff”–attention getting, but not necessarily meaningful to health. But this one is such a good example of the genre that I thought I’d share it. Today’s foodproduction.com (Europe) talks about a study of chocolate consumption and bone density in 1000 older women (aged 70 to 85). Those who consumed the most chocolate (type not specified) had the thinnest and weakest bones.  Does this mean that eating chocolate is bad for bones?  Of course not.  It could mean that women who eat a lot of chocolate are not eating healthfully, getting enough physical activity, or doing any number of other things that do not promote bone strength.  When it comes to studies of single foods or nutrients, context is everything!

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Jan 8 2008

Chocolate health claims: an explanation?

A comment on the previous post about chocolate asks why chocolate manufacturers think they have to put health claims on candy.  The simple answer is that health claims are the only things that sell food these days.  And chocolate candy is in trouble–you aren’t eating enough of it to keep these corporations growing fast enough.  And on top of all that, the companies are all being sued for price fixing which, alas, is illegal. Health claims are an “eat more” marketing strategy.  I think health claims–all of them–should be illegal.  That isn’t going to happen but we could make our displeasure with such misleading marketing known to the companies.

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Jan 7 2008

What nerve! Benefits of chocolate questioned

Food Production Daily, my source of much interesting information about European production of functional foods, today reveals the bitter truth about chocolate. It quotes an article in The Lancet revealing that most of the beneficial antioxidants in cocoa are removed during processing. But a spokesperson for the chocolate industry says (my emphasis): “Anyone already on a healthy and balanced diet should be able to indulge occasionally in one or two squares of dark chocolate and benefit from a few health benefits as well.”

But of course. As I am always saying, promoting the health benefits of chocolate is about marketing, not health.

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Dec 22 2007

Chocolate price fixing?

Canada has just finished a big investigation of price fixing in the chocolate industry so it seems that we are doing that too.  We buy about $13 billion worth of chocolate a year and the industry is worried about prices because of the rising cost of commodities.  But price fixing?  That’s supposed to be illegal.

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Oct 30 2007

Chocolate is a health food! (well, maybe)

I am so happy to hear that the French chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, is marketing a probiotic chocolate–one packed with friendly bacteria like the kind in yogurt. Only the company claims that chocolate is a better source of probiotic bacteria than yogurt. And you only need to eat half an ounce a day! Chocoholics rejoice! Skeptics roll your eyes! Personally, I like my chocolate unfunctional. File this one under Techno-Foods.