So I wrote DOVE® to express my dissatisfaction over having been misled that the product labeled as dark chocolate actually contained "sweet chocolate" including skim milk and milkfat, and that the product did not list the percentage of cacao as do many other dark chocolate products. In my letter, I asked for both a refund of my purchase and a clarification of the basis of Dove labeling the product as "Dark Chocolate" given the ingredients.
Here was Dove's response in its entirety:
Thank you for your email regarding DOVE®.
We are sorry to hear you are disappointed with the ingredients used in DOVE® PROMISES® Dark Chocolate with Almonds.
If you still have questions, please call Consumer Care at 1-800-627-7852 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST. When calling, please refer to Case Number:40245829.
Have a great day!
Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America
Case ID 40245829"
Even more flummoxed at this point, I called the number and spoke to a pleasant older sounding lady who explained, after putting me on hold to speak to a colleague, that DOVE® labeled its product based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. She was unable to cite the specific guideline when asked. I told her that nevertheless, the labeling could be misleading to consumers and should be changed.
Then I called the FDA consumer line and spoke to another rather pleasant lady who said that the FDA, in fact, has no guidelines in regards to dark chocolate. Here is the relevant citation that she led me to: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm
What you will find at the FDA site is that although the FDA does define what may be construed as "chocolate," it offers no such definition or guidelines for "dark chocolate." When asked specifically then what is the basis for a product manufacturer to state that its product is "dark chocolate," the FDA representative replied that if the chocolate looks dark, it may be called dark chocolate. She assured me that she wasn't kidding even when I asked if I could quote her.
So what's the big deal? Does it really matter if a chocolate is dark or otherwise? The answer is definitively yes. Study after study has confirmed a difference. A recent small study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed one such result. here's the link. http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/3/4/e001072.full
To quote a NPR review of the study, "Researchers studied patients with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, which affects about 20 percent of adults older than 70 in the U.S. and other Western countries. People who have PAD can have trouble walking and exercising since blood flow to their limbs becomes impaired. Cramping can be a problem, too.
As part of the study, researchers gave half of the 20 participants 40 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate that had at least 85 percent cocoa. The other half of the group received 40 grams of milk chocolate that had less than 30 percent cocoa. The aim was to test whether the dark chocolate could improve those patients' ability to walk on their own on a treadmill."
It did. The researchers "observed improved blood flow among the participants who ate the dark chocolate. "Conversely, we did not observe effects on blood flow and on walking autonomy in PAD patients after milk chocolate consumption.""
Back in July 2013, I also posted a summary blog about the nature and healthiness of eating chocolate.
To read that overview of what is actually "chocolate" and the difference between white, milk and dark chocolate, here is the link: http://mdprevent.blogspot.com/2013_07_01_archive.html
The basic takeaway from my blog is that that are real differences in what is contained in the variety of chocolates and what affect they have on the average person. Numerous reasonable studies have shown health benefits from dark chocolate products including high cacao percentages, usually in excess of 70%. I personally prefer 85% or higher and choose among Lindt, Godiva and Ghirardelli (86% and my favorite) as my sources of reasonably tasty products. On the other hand, products with lesser cacao are often heavy in sugar and are basically problematic for most people who must watch their blood sugar levels and/or their weight.