With thanks to those of you who have forwarded me your responses to letters you have written to G&B since they dared to add the words ‘milk powder’ onto our fave Maya Gold chocolate. Here is one (edited and highlighted) letter so the rest of you can see that it’s, well, as clear as mud…Basically, the bars are the same as they always were, don’t have milk powder in the ingredients despite them adding it to the label (!) but may contain traces of dairy from previous production of milk choc bars on the same factory line. Phew. Glad that’s clear then…at the end, I’ve recommended my choices for guaranteed dairy-free choc.
“Green & Blacks announced changes to the dairy allergy statements on the wrappers of our dark chocolate bars in May 2008. There has been no change to the recipe of these bars; the change is simply in the way in which the risks of dairy cross contamination are being communicated on bar wrappers. I will outline the background behind this decision below:
As you are aware, there are no milk ingredients in the recipe of our Dark chocolate bars and this continues to be the case. However, the bars are produced on the same production line as Milk chocolate bars within our range. The bars have previously, therefore, carried the following statement to reflect this: Manufactured in a factory that handles dairy ingredients.
A recent audit revealed that traces of milk residues can still be found on manufacturing equipment despite intensive cleaning. Therefore, in order to ensure that consumers are at minimum risk, our allergen statements will be changed and we will clearly state on pack that milk residues may be present in dark chocolate bars across the range. This will be indicated by the inclusion of Organic Whole Milk Powder within the ingredients list itself and a Contains Milk Ingredient statement on pack. The Vegan labelling was also consequently removed from pack. The new packaging has already been printed and is filtering through to supermarkets over the next few months, as you have noted already with some of our bars.
Therefore, there is actually no change to the risk to allergy-sufferers as the recipes and ingredients that go into the making of the bars have not changed. What we are now clearly stating on pack is that we cannot guarantee the absence of milk. It is almost certainly going to be present albeit at a low level. This packaging change ensures that consumers, especially milk allergy sufferers, are aware of the possibility and this represents a positive step in consumer communication (not! Ed).
Partially in response to customer feedback, we are currently considering the possible addition of a few explanatory lines on pack to further clarify the reasons for the addition of Organic Whole Milk Powder to the ingredients list. This would be a positive step in ensuring that consumers are not unnecessarily alarmed when spotting these changes on pack. (Surely they should just stick to the ‘may contain…’ line. Ed)
…we are planning to provide a dedicated production line by the end of 2009. Our hope is that we can make product available early in 2010. (Hoorah!)
My recommendations for guaranteed dairy-free are Kinnertons dark choc bar from Sainsbury’s and Celtic Dark Choc little bars from Holland & Barrett. Enjoy!