Green and Blacks - both confused and confusing!


As those in the chocolate ‘know’ will know, Green and Blacks has moved from the specialist to the mainstream luxury chocolate market and has little interest in the vegans and dairy allergics who used to form a loyal core of customers. So, presumably, they did not regard the interests of these groups as relevant when changing the recipes and adding milk powder to their 70% dark chocolate.

Even so, asks FM reader Geoff Peel (who only discovered the recipe change when trying to tease out why he had been feeling so ill all over Christmas) does the minimal gain in flavour (if gain there is) achieved by adding tiny bit of milk powder to the mix, make up for the vegan and milk allergic/intolerant customers that they will lose?

Even if they believed that this recipe change is essential, why did they not flag up the new recipe and the inclusion of milk products on the new bars? We cannot believe that they were not aware that they had a substantial number of vegan and allergic customers.

It seems to us that in failing to make it obvious that the bars now contained an animal product/allergen they were failing to exercise due diligence in respect of this product.

Geoff Peel has written to Green and Black’s CEO and awaits an answer.


MARCH 2009

First – an apology. It would appear that far from being uncaring about their dairy allergic customers as we suggest above Green & Blacks are too concerned.

Geoff Peel who, you may remember, had brought their apparent change of recipe (adding powdered milk to their 70% dark chocolate) to our notice, has now received a lengthy letter from Green & Blacks.
In essence (it runs to two A4 pages) it says that they have not changed the recipe for the 70% dark chocolate and have not added any powdered milk, even though powdered milk is now clearly listed as an ingredient in the ingredients list on the back of the bar.

Green & Blacks say that ‘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.’

However, this is not what they have done. Instead of making it quite clear that milk residues might be present in the chocolate (which would have been a helpful piece of information for dairy allergics and vegans who could then have made their own decision as to whether to take the risk) they have, incorrectly, stated that milk products will be present in the chocolate. This impression is further reinforced by the statement immediately below stating that the chocolate ‘contains’ milk and soya ingredients and ‘may contain’ traces of nuts and cereal. It does ‘contain’ soya but it only ‘may contain’ traces of milk, nuts and cereal.
As a result thousands of dairy intolerant people will now avoid G&B dark chocolate because they believe that it actually does contain milk. Not great for G&B – and a lot worse for those whose diets will be yet further restricted unnecessarily.

More research reports on free from foods

Michelle on allergen labelling

First Published in Febuaray 2009