- The chocolate produced in its pure form is gluten-free
- Chocolate is gluten free but can contain gluten through contamination
- Gluten level is measured in parts per million
- The GFCO is responsible for certifying brands whose gluten levels are standard
- Different brands produce chocolate in different varieties and flavors
Even though chocolate contains nutritional elements, there has been concern about whether it contains gluten. So, is chocolate gluten-free? We have the answers.
When chocolate is made from its purest form, it is gluten-free. However, certain chocolate brands use extra ingredients that may contain gluten. There are also cases of cross-contamination where brands use machines in the chocolate production process to produce other products containing gluten.
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Typically, chocolate is a food product originating from the cacao fruit, where the fruit undergoes specific processes for extracting the chocolate. Since plain pure chocolate has a dry and bitter taste, chocolate brands add sugar, cream, and other additives to improve its taste.
One of the interesting facts about chocolate is that it blends with many delicacies such as cakes, chocolate brownies, chip cookies, and chocolate puddings, among other food products.
When parents and guardians want to please children, they give them chocolate. As a matter of fact, many children have a strong attachment to chocolate,and take it frequently.
This makes it one of the most popular food flavors and food types worldwide. Many chocolate companies do not have to do a lot of marketing in order to sell their products. Chocolate is an already accepted product in the market.
Regarding health benefits, chocolate is known to have healthy and bad dietary fats. For helpful nutrients, chocolate contains minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium, as well as other vital minerals that improve human health.
Additionally, according to different research, consuming chocolate regularly improves alertness and lowers your blood pressure and stress levels.
However, when consumed excessively, chocolate has caffeine-related effects such as restlessness, insomnia, and irregular or abnormal heartbeat. Therefore, taking chocolate moderately is advisable to avoid harmful side effects. The issue of taking foods moderately applies to most foods, and chocolate is not an exception.
Is Chocolate Gluten Free?
Consumers would like to make informed decisions on their health on the use of wheat flour products, and of the things to know if a certain product is gluten free. They do want to consume products that will have negative health consequences later on.
This is more so when you are dealing with consumers with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Such people must be keen to take a gluten free diet and avoid products that are made from wheat flour.
People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and fail to take a gluten free diet, may show a number of symptoms associated with wheat flour. These include stomach gas, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. To avoid this, one must take a gluten free diet and avoid gluten containing ingredients.
Typically, when chocolate is in its natural and pure state, it is chocolate gluten free. Thus, chocolate is naturally gluten free. Gluten free pure chocolate mainly uses simple ingredients such as sugar, cacao beans, and butter. People with celiac disease can consume a variety such as dark chocolate. Similarly, chocolate with barley malt is still gluten free.
However, other brands want to make unique chocolate varieties by adding ingredients known to have gluten as an element and this will affect a person with celiac disease.
Again, a product such as dark chocolate may be prepared in a factory which also deals with wheat, and it will be contaminated. In such a case, a person with gluten intolerance should avoid dark chocolate.
Additionally, some brands use the same machinery to produce chocolate and other products that may contain gluten. This may lead to a risk of cross-contamination where a chocolate product deemed gluten-free contains gluten in small quantities.
Therefore, checking essential parameters such as the ingredient, allergy, and gluten information is crucial to confirm that the chocolate product is gluten-free.
What Are The Regulations About Gluten Levels In Chocolate Products?
Typically, the US laws mandated by the GFCO have a policy that maintains the standard of gluten levels in chocolate,chocolate bars, and other related products. It also monitors the use of gluten containing ingredients in products.
The GFCO classifies brands according to whether they have used gluten-containing ingredients or are gluten-free but risk the likelihood of having their products cross-contaminated with gluten.
It is able to give information including if the chocolate in question is naturally gluten free or otherwise. For example, in many cases, milk chocolate is gluten free. Similarly, chocolate made with cocoa butter is gluten free.
If the chocolate brand has gluten in its products, GFCO will only certify them if its level is below 20 ppm. Therefore, chocolate brands that have gluten levels that are more than 20 ppm may be harmful, especially to individuals who have celiac and other related diseases.
Additionally, if the brand claims to have gluten-free chocolate products but risks the probability of cross-contamination, then GFCO will only certify them if the gluten levels are less than 10 ppm.
Therefore, these standards and regulations ensure that the certified brands have products that are safe for consumption, whether naturally gluten free, or products where companies prepare them as such.
Trusted Brands That Make Gluten-Free Chocolate
Numerous brands produce chocolate in various types and varieties. But not every brand makes them in the same way. Therefore, there is a risk of consuming products outside the required standard per the US state law regarding gluten-level consumption.
Additionally, since the risk of having cross contamination is high, chocolate bars brands have the responsibility to check or test the gluten levels and provide the information to its consumers.
The following are some of the trusted brands that are known to make gluten-free chocolate products:
The Hershey’s Company
Hershey’s chocolate company is known to manufacture plain milk chocolate bars and milk chocolate almond bars that are gluten-free. Additionally, some of its chocolate nuggets are also thought to be gluten-free as well.
However, according to the company’s website, they shared their machinery and other equipment in making chocolate bars with other gluten-containing products, leading to a rise in cross-contamination.
Fortunately, the company's gluten level is below 10 ppm, and it will label any gluten components that may be available in its ingredient list.
The alter eco is a chocolate center headquartered in San Francisco and its chocolate is gluten free. It deals with different chocolate product varieties and chocolate bars that contain unique flavors and textures.
Most chocolate flavors in alter eco are certified gluten-free since the Gluten-free Certification Organization( GFCO) approved their gluten level to be less than 10 ppm,and the company avoids using gluten containing ingredients.
Overall, checking on the ingredient information is still advisable because sometimes the ingredients might change to ensure the product is gluten-free.
This chocolate gluten free center is solely for gluten-free chocolate bars that are made to support and uplift women entrepreneurs. Therefore, the funding program for wild Ophelia's support of female businesses is partly funded by women's grants programs.
Regarding its chocolate product varieties, the company ensures that they use gluten-free ingredients and flavors. However, it is also advisable to check the ingredient list to ensure no ingredients contain gluten.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker