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Chocolate, a food product made from the seeds of the cacao tree as its main ingredient, can be found in liquid, paste or block form. The earliest appearance of chocolate can be traced back to the Olmec civilization in the 19th century BC, where traces of drinking chocolate beverages have been discovered at their sites[1][2]. Most Central American civilizations made chocolate drinks, including the Mayan and Aztec[3]. The English word for chocolate comes from the classical Nahuatl word meaning 'bitter water'[4].

Types of chocolate

Black Chocolate
Different kinds of chocolate

Chocolate is classified according to its composition, including dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and unsweetened chocolate, etc. In terms of composition, milk chocolate is a sweet chocolate containing dairy products[5]. White chocolate, although similar in taste to milk chocolate and dark chocolate, contains no cocoa in its composition[6]. Black chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cocoa powder compound[5]. Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate, also known as bitter chocolate or baking chocolate[7].

Production, processing, packaging and storage of chocolate

Production and process:

The cacao tree

The cacao tree is an evergreen plant that produces fruit all year round. A healthy, mature tree can produce only a few dozen fruits a year.

Picking cocoa fruit

The fruit is usually picked in September each year. To avoid damaging the pulp, workers remove the pulp with the seeds filled inside.

The fermentation

Cacao seeds are fermented in order to produce the aroma precursor of chocolate. In addition, this determines the flavor of the chocolate (i.e., sour, bitter, or astringent). The bitterness is softened by fermentation, and when baked, it has a chocolate-like aroma. Workers pour the beans into special wooden containers and ferment them for a few days to a week. Cocoa fermentation is an amazing process. Microbes, yeasts, wooden boxes, and air content all give the beans their unique flavor. [8]


The fermented beans are still about 60% water and need 5-10 days to dry to reduce the water content to about 5-7%. A common way to dry cocoa beans is to use the sun. But due to the region and rain restrictions, many companies will use baking equipment to dry.[9]


Chocolate manufacturers bake the raw cocoa beans they buy. The temperature and time of baking determine the aroma and flavor of the chocolate. Traditional chocolate production lines bake the cocoa beans directly in their shells. [8]

It forms cocoa paste

When the nibs are ground and heated, they become a flowing paste known as "cocoa paste." When cooled, they form hard cubes known as "cocoa drome." Cocoa drome cubes with various secondary ingredients are used to form various flavors of chocolate. The reason the nibs are called cocoa paste is because they contain about 55 percent fat. If the cocoa paste is pressed, the flavor is removed, and the color is removed, and "cocoa butter" is made (in the same way that soy is made from soy oil). After the cocoa cream is pressed out of the cocoa butter (or part of the cocoa butter) the remaining block is called cocoa Bai, the cocoa Bai is ground and cooled, forming "cocoa powder".


The refining of chocolate is divided into two steps. The first step is to remove excess water and purify the flavor. The second step is to readd the cocoa butter and other ingredients and spend a few days mixing and grinding into finer, smaller molecules to create a fine, smooth texture.[9]

Packaging and storage:

packaging and transportation of chocolate

The current measure is to use the aluminum-plastic composite with good heat resistance and light resistance as the packaging material of chocolate. Its barrier performance can protect the chocolate from melting to the greatest extent. At the same time, the aluminum-plastic composite has good printability and can meet the requirements of packaging design. In terms of logistics, cold chain transportation is mostly used to reduce huge losses caused by melting and a series of other external factors during transportation.

Chocolate is a food with strong heat sensitivity and difficult to preserve. The melting point of cocoa butter, the main component of chocolate, is about 33 ℃. In addition, when the temperature gradually increased from 25 ℃ to 30 ℃, the luster of the chocolate surface began to dim and disappear. A similar situation occurs when the relative humidity is higher than 65%. Therefore, the best storage temperature of chocolate should be controlled between 12 ~ 18 ℃ and the relative humidity should be less than 65%.[10]

Chocolate packaging requirements

Chocolate itself is a very fragile and delicate product, which puts forward very high requirements for chocolate packaging.

1) The package must have good light shielding performance.

2) In addition to the heat sensitivity of chocolate itself, chocolate also has strong adsorption characteristics. Packaging should have good thermal insulation.

3) Packaging materials also need to have a series of properties such as anti acid, anti dialysis, anti mildew, anti insect and anti pollution.

4) In terms of packaging technology, low temperature sealing shall be adopted.

Transportation of chocolate

1. In the long-distance logistics process, the transportation mode of chocolate will be different from that of general FMCG. Generally, refrigerated container trucks are used to keep the storage temperature of chocolate at 12 ~ 18 ℃.[9]

2. In short distance logistics, special heat insulation and moisture-proof boxes can be used for transportation. Dry ice or ice bags can be added to the chocolate box, and the heat insulation and insulation box can be directly sleeved outside the chocolate packaging box to prevent chocolate from melting on the way.[9]

The benefits and drawbacks of chocolate


1. Chocolate can relieve depression and make people excited.

2. Eating chocolate helps to control the content of cholesterol, maintain the elasticity of capillaries and prevent cardiovascular diseases[11].

3. Chocolate is an antioxidant food, which has a certain effect on delaying aging[11].


1. The fat content contained in chocolate is relatively high, so when eating chocolate, we must pay attention not to eat too much, otherwise, it will not only lead to obesity, but also cause diarrhea, stomach pain, abdominal distention and other discomfort. Especially for some chocolate, it contains higher fat content and more polyols. If you eat too much of this substance, it is also easy to cause stomach spasm or diarrhea[12].

2. The high sugar content of most chocolate can also be a cause of tooth decay[12].

Food and Drug Acts of Canada (about chocolate)

The legislation for chocolate products is under the supervision of the Food and Drugs Act(FDA) and is clearly listed in Division 4 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR). The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the management of the above two laws and regulations.[13] The following are some regulations on chocolate management.

1. Cocoa butter must be the only fat source. Chocolate sold in Canada cannot contain vegetable fats or oils.

2. Chocolate must contain chocolate liquor.

3. Sweeteners are allowed to be added to chocolate products. Sweetener products that are allowed to be added are listed in Division 18 of the Food and Drug Regulations.

4. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol and maltitol) are not permitted.

5. Milk and milk ingredients are permissible in chocolate products.

6. Emulsifying agents are permissible, as are flavours such as vanilla.

7. Lecithin is a common emulsifying agent in chocolate. It is approved for use in chocolate production and processing in Canada. However, the amount of lecithin added during the entire production process cannot exceed 1%.

8. Chocolate products that contain prohibited ingredients (such as artificial sweeteners) cannot be legally called chocolate. Manufacturer must use a non-standardized name, such as candy.[13]

Possible Exam Question

When we take out the chocolate from the refrigerator, the chocolate cracks, turns white and is not smooth enough. What is the reason?

Answer: This is because chocolate has melted and then solidified during transportation and storage.

Explanation and analysis: chocolate contains cocoa butter, so the step of "temperature regulation" is needed to establish a stable state. Cocoa butter can solidify or crystallize in a variety of States, but only if it contains β V crystal can maintain its luster when solidified, retract from the mold and produce elasticity.

When chocolate melts, this crystal structure is destroyed. If chocolate is simply allowed to cool and solidify itself, it will be granular, gray and has no shrinkage characteristics that allow it to demould.


  1. Powis, Terry G.; Cyphers, Ann; Gaikwad, Nilesh W.; Grivetti, Louis; Cheong, Kong. (2011). "Cacao use and the San Lorenzo Olmec". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (21): 8595–8600.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. "Consumían olmecas chocolate hace 3000 años". El Universal (Mexico City). 2008.
  3. "Chocolate: A Mesoamerican Luxury 1200–1521 – Obtaining Cacao". Field Museum. 2011-11-23.
  4. "Chocolate". The American Heritage Dictionary. 2009-05-09.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Directive 2000/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 June 2000 relating to cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption". Publications Office of the European Union. 2010-10-31.
  6. "US Federal Register – White Chocolate; Establishment of a Standard of Identity". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2008-06-01.
  7. Kinta, Yasuyoshi; Hartel, Richard W (2009-08-20). "Bloom Formation on Poorly-Tempered Chocolate and Effects of Seed Addition". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 87 (1): 19–27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gordon, Eric. "Formula and technology of chocolate". Food health and environment. 39.22.4: 06–09.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 James, Hogan (summer 2010). "Development of chocolate production industry". Food Industry Technology. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. Chris, Carry (2016.8). "Food packaging, health and safety need more attention". Food Safety. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Van Wensem, Joke (2015). "Overview of scientific evidence for chocolate health benefits". Integrated environmental assessment and management. 11 (1): 176–177.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ambrosini, Patricia (2002). "Best reason to eat chocolate". Good housekeeping (U.S. ed.). 234 (2): 112.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Food and Drug Act". 1995.