What to check before buying home-made chocolate
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 •