What to check be­fore buy­ing home-made choco­late

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Contents - By Dr. Sau­rabh Arora

Buy­ers need to en­sure that home­made choco­late man­u­fac­tur­ers fol­low FSSAI stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions.

Home-made choco­lates in the un­or­ga­nized sec­tor do not carry any la­bel in­for­ma­tion. There is no list of in­gre­di­ents, so con­sumers with food al­ler­gies must take pre­cau­tions or avoid eat­ing home-made choco­lates that con­tain un­known in­gre­di­ents.

Al­though, they have more of the re­fined and dis­tinct taste and come with ex­otic fill­ings, buy­ers need to en­sure that home-made choco­late man­u­fac­tur­ers fol­low FSSAI stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions and their prod­ucts carry proper la­bel­ing with in­for­ma­tion about in­gre­di­ents

Choco­lates are best for cel­e­brat­ing hap­pi­ness as well as for ex­press­ing love and grat­i­tude to­wards our loved ones. The del­i­cately moulded, artis­tic pieces are not only good to look at but some­thing that most In­di­ans find ir­re­sistible. But while you may not mind pay­ing the pre­mium that spe­cialty home­made choco­lates com­mand, have you given a thought about how safe these choco­lates are to con­sume?

The home-made choco­late in­dus­try com­prises the or­ga­nized as well as un­or­ga­nized sec­tor. Even in the or­ga­nized sec­tor, var­i­ous va­ri­eties of choco­late are called home-made sim­ply be­cause they can­not be mass pro­duced. They have to be made in batches and are lim­ited to no more than a few kilo­grams. They are dif­fer­ent from the mass-pro­duced in­dus­trial choco­lates be­cause they have less sweet­ness and less of a smooth tex­ture. At the same time, they have more of the re­fined and dis­tinct taste and come with ex­otic fill­ings.

How­ever, no one knows if these choco­late mak­ers have a li­cense from the Food Safety and Stan­dards Au­thor­ity of In­dia (FSSAI) and if their man­u­fac­tur­ing units or kitchens have been in­spected by the health and food in­spec­tors for hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion. Other mark­ers for food safety are whether FSSAI per­mit­ted flavours and col­ors are be­ing used in home-made choco­lates as non-per­mit­ted ad­di­tives are a health haz­ard. So be­fore buy­ing home-made choco­lates, ask the seller if they have an FSSAI li­cense or not.

An­other food safety norm that comes to mind con­cerns the in­gre­di­ents used in home-made choco­lates and if they are free from adul­ter­ation and con­tam­i­na­tion. Co­coa is the main in­gre­di­ent used in mak­ing home-made choco­lates, fol­lowed by dry fruits. Some choco­latiers also use herbs and other fill­ings of fruits and jams. It is a well-known fact that un­less co­coa beans are roasted ad­e­quately and han­dled hy­gien­i­cally, they have the po­ten­tial to be con­tam­i­nated with Sal­mo­nella spp. bac­te­ria. Other raw ma­te­ri­als like milk and eggs also need to be ad­e­quately heat-treated and han­dled hy­gien­i­cally to keep them free from bac­te­rial con­tam­i­na­tion. Per­sonal hy­giene can cause ma­jor is­sues as home-made choco­lates are made by hand-dip­ping. There are other ways that mi­cro­bial con­tam­i­nants can be in­tro­duced into choco­lates and these are from:

• Con­tam­i­nated in­gre­di­ents like mouldy dry fruit

• Con­tam­i­nated and un­clean pro­cess­ing equip­ment and moulds

• Un­hy­gienic han­dling

• In­ap­pro­pri­ate pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial

• Adul­ter­ation can oc­cur from in­fe­rior qual­ity milk, sugar or starch used in choco­lates

• Co­coa beans, nuts and other in­gre­di­ents can be con­tam­i­nated by in­sects, ro­dents, and my­co­tox­ins un­less stored prop­erly If the machin­ery is not cleaned and washed thor­oughly and san­i­tized it could lead to in­fes­ta­tion by in­sects or mi­cro­bial con­tam­i­na­tion It is quite clear that home-made choco­lates carry the risk of con­tam­i­na­tion, which is a real threat to our health. Since young chil­dren con­sume large quan­ti­ties of choco­lates, it is im­por­tant to safe­guard •

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