Why does the allergen warning on a Divine dark chocolate product state that it "contains milk," but does not list milk as an ingredient?
Divine Chocolate has recognized that the presence of milk in dark chocolate is an issue for many allergy sufferers and we want to call attention to the potential presence of milk in our products. The recipe and manufacturing process for our dark chocolate products has remained the same and we have not added milk to our dark chocolate. However we have changed our milk allergen warning from “May contain milk” to “Contains milk” as a precaution for our most sensitive customers.
Most dark chocolate products are manufactured on the same production lines as milk chocolate unless specifically stated on the package. Although we thoroughly clean our machinery between each batch according to industry best practices, the dry cleaning process leaves the possibility that trace amounts of milk will remain on the equipment and inadvertently transferred to the dark chocolate. As a result, milk is listed as a non intentional ingredient in the form of a "contains" statement. We take allergens very seriously and have found that it is impossible to guarantee the complete absence of milk in our products. Out of growing concern for our customers, we have decided to highlight milk as an unintentional ingredient that is present in all of our dark chocolate products. Each person’s allergies are different and we are unable to tell you if our products are safe for you to eat if you have a milk allergy. Because milk is not an intentional ingredient, it is very difficult to measure and know what the exact level of milk present in each batch will be.
Divine is made with cocoa bought from Kuapa Kokoo at the guaranteed minimum Fairtrade price of $2000 per tonne which protects the farmers from the volatility of the market. The cooperative receives an additional premium of $200 per tonne, which the cooperative invests in their own projects to improve the farmers' living, health and education standards, and farming productivity. A percentage of the price of Divine goes towards 'producer support and development', which Kuapa Kokoo spends on farmer education, and helping to maintain the values and vision of the cooperative as it grows. What makes the relationship even more special is that Kuapa co-owns Divine Chocolate Ltd. Kuapa Kokoo has two places on the Board so it can exercise its influence over how Divine is developed, and receive a significant share of the company profits. This ownership relationship also gives Kuapa Kokoo more status in the cocoa industry and a ‘seat at the table’. Less tangibly, but just as important, the Kuapa farmers are very proud that they own a company in the UK, and hearing about how well their business is doing is very motivating and exciting.
All Divine products are suitable for vegetarians. 70% Dark Chocolate, 70% Mint Dark Chocolate, 70% Dark Chocolate Hearts, 70% Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar, 70% Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs, 70% Dark Chocolate Easter Egg, After Dinner Mints and Divine Delights are possible choices for vegans, though we cannot guarantee these products are totally milk-free as milk is used elsewhere in the factory. Divine Dark Chocolate with Fruit and Nut contains butterfat which is a milk derivative and therefore not suitable for vegans. Divine is also made with natural cocoa butter and vanilla, lecithin from GM-free soya, and contains no vegetable fat substitutes.
Divine chocolate is made with the best of everything - top quality cocoa, natural cocoa butter and vanilla - and that is what makes it so good and delicious. Any attempt to reduce the fat or sugar or replace ingredients with synthetic alternatives would mean creating an inferior product that fewer people would enjoy. Our aim is to make the best chocolate containing only natural ingredients that most people can enjoy as a treat, as part of a balanced diet.
None of the Divine products can be guaranteed totally nut-free as the factory where they are made handles nuts.
Cocoa is very prone to diseases, which can quickly spread and wipe out huge areas of cocoa production, and in turn seriously endanger the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. As cocoa is vital to the Ghanaian economy, the Ghanaian cocoa board is being cautious about introducing organic production. Until enough tests have been done on organically approved pesticides in the Ghanaian context, introducing organic cocoa farming is considered high risk. If and when organic farming is considered safe, Kuapa Kokoo will undoubtedly consider its potential. Until then Divine is not certified organic - but it is worth noting that as pesticides are too expensive for most Kuapa farmers they rely largely on natural crop protection methods already.
It is also worth noting Divine is a natural product, made with natural cocoa butter and vanilla, lecithin from GM-free soya, and no vegetable fat substitutes.
Divine is committed to using Fairtrade certified ingredients in our products whenever Fairtrade ingredients in the appropriate formats are available. All the cocoa, sugar and vanilla used to make Divine chocolate are certified Fairtrade. However you may see on the product label that a small amount of non-Fairtrade sugar and non-Fairtrade flavours are in some of our flavoured bars. This is because some ingredients we need to use come in a processed format that is not yet available using Fairtrade components – for example the sugar and natural peppermint oil that makes up the mint crisp in our Dark Divine and Mint. Whenever a Fairtrade supply of the ingredients we use becomes available, we make the switch, as we did with sugar and vanilla some time ago.
None of the ingredients in Divine contain wheat/gluten. However, they are produced in a factory which does produce items containing wheat/gluten, so we cannot guarantee that they are completely gluten free.
We are delighted to announce that the 100g and 45g Divine chocolate bars, Divine gold coins and 40g Dubble bars are now certified Kosher. The K certification symbol now appears on the back of our packs.
Our primary mission is to improve the lives of cocoa farmers in West Africa, and, by creating a farmer-ownership model we have ensured Kuapa Kokoo benefits financially from access to the highest point of the value chain. Introducing manufacturing in Ghana would not bring as much benefit, as well as introducing new financial and environmental restraints on getting the chocolate to market. As the UK market prefers milk chocolate, milk and other ingredients would have to be imported, and stocks would have to be refrigerated in factories and on ships as chocolate melts instantly in the high temperatures in Ghana.
As a responsible company Divine is conscious of its environmental impact, and we are committed to doing our best to continuously make improvements to reduce it. We use limited airfreight in our supply chain, and keep up to date with best practice regarding all the materials we use. Our packaging is reviewed annually with respect to environmental impact. While ensuring our products are all kept protected and delicious, as well as looking lovely and irresistible on shelf, we are constantly looking to reduce and improve our packaging. Latest developments include keeping our Easter Egg packaging to a minimum with no plastic, removing the cellophane wrapper from the Divine Advent Calendars, cutting down ‘chocolate miles’ in our supply chain, and sourcing almost all our seasonal packaging locally in the UK.
Twin, the NGO that helped to set up Divine, is working with its trading partners in Africa and Latin America, many of whom grow tree crops in tropical rainforests, to help them find ways to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change. Many of these producers are having to cope with increasingly erratic rainfall patterns that are effecting productivity. With support from Twin and local and international experts, these cooperatives are beginning to identify new or rediscover old production practices that can help them adapt to climatic change. In cocoa, for example, farmers can plant more shade trees in order to improve moisture conservation and increase biodiversity. Such tree planting projects are a ‘carbon sink’ and can therefore potentially attract payments from carbon offsetting schemes, which can help fund these important adaptation initiatives and even generate additional income for farmers.
Palm oil is used in a large percentage of mainstream chocolates – its role is generally to keep fruit ingredients from sticking together in the manufacture process, and to create liquid or gooey textures. Currently palm oil can be listed as ‘vegetable oil’ in ingredient lists in the UK.
In the interests of protecting the rainforest, Divine does not use any palm oil in its chocolate, and aims not to use any additional ingredients that contain palm oil. To that end we are working to detect any ingredient that may contain palm oil and looking for alternatives. We have removed palm oil from future batches of our Dark Chocolate Covered Salted Fudge.
If we ever decide to make an exception to this approach it will be with independently audited traceable and sustainable palm oil, and will make this clear on any packaging.