FDA Approves Claims About Cocoa Powder


Raw cocoa beans, clay bowl with cocoa powder, chocolate on sacking. | Image by iprachenko, Shutterstock

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled on the healthiness of cocoa in one’s diet.

The FDA will allow “the use of certain qualified health claims regarding the consumption of cocoa flavanols in high flavanol cocoa powder and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease for conventional foods,” according to a February press release from the agency.

Flavanols are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and foods such as tea, apples, grapes, red wine, and cocoa. However, a special version of the chemical is produced only in cocoa beans.

A 2020 study on the National Library of Medicine’s website explored the possibility of using flavanols found in chocolate as an avenue for addressing obesity.

“The study reported that consumption of cocoa bean extract powder containing 80 mg of flavonoids for 4 weeks by obese subjects with borderline metabolic syndrome showed a reduction in body weight, waist circumference, glycemia, and TG. Blood levels of HDL-c also increased in the cocoa group,” said researchers.

Subsequent studies on the flavanols found in chocolate were conducted on their ability to prevent cardiovascular disease events in 2022.

“We did see promising signals for prevention of cardiovascular disease events,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, an author of the 2022 study, according to NPR. “We actually saw a 27% reduction in cardiovascular disease deaths,” she continued.

Barry Callebaut AG Switzerland, a company that produces chocolate and cocoa products, petitioned the FDA in 2018, asking that the regulatory agency authorize claims that cocoa flavanols can be associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular diseases, according to the press release from the FDA.

The FDA responded to the petition on February 1 after reviewing the studies presented by the organization.

The agency said that it would consider “enforcement discretion” for certain health terms in relation to high-flavanol content cocoa. These terms center around the fact that high-flavanol cocoa powders can reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

The FDA, however, maintains that scientific evidence for these terms has been sparse.

“The credible scientific evidence for this relationship, which is very limited, does not support the establishment of a daily intake of 200 mg of cocoa flavanols or any other daily dietary intake recommendation levels for the general U.S. population,” said the FDA in the letter.

The FDA said that these claims currently only apply specifically to powders and foods that contain a high concentration of flavanol and that they do not apply to regular cocoa powder products, such as chocolate.

Christopher Gardner, a professor at Stanford University, told NPR that health claims like those presented and evaluated are unlikely to be helpful for consumers.

“How is a consumer going to interpret that?” he said, per NPR.

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23 days ago

I like chocolate, but the sugar is rough on the body. I believe that the early monks would sweeten the cocoa with cream.
I’m sure that the cocoa industry likes seeing this kind of Press.
Cocoa commodity prices are currently up over 5% year over year.