Consumers of chocolate [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for consumers of chocolate.

Do you love chocolate? So do we! The preferred sweet of millions of Europeans – the world’s biggest concentration of chocolate consumers – is a natural anti-depressant also good for the heart, circulation and brain. To make your favourite chocolate, EU countries imported 1.7 million tons of tropical Theobroma cocoa tree beans in 2016, mostly from Africa.

Chocolate bars and pralines on wooden background

© Sebastian Duda / Fotolia

EU legislation on food safety and quality, trade and development policies, encourages production of high-quality chocolate. In promoting free trade, the EU negotiates economic partnership agreements with major cocoa producing countries. Various EU standards limit pesticides and other pollutant residue levels allowed in foodstuffs, minimising the risk for consumers. The EU constantly adapts its legislation to the latest scientific evidence. Recently, for instance, the EU set maximum limits for cadmium in cocoa products; a metal that, if it builds up in the human body, can cause kidney and bone damage, on top of being a carcinogen.

Through EU development aid, and by supporting fair trade schemes, the EU helps develop sustainable agriculture, without child labour, and well-functioning agricultural markets. In recent years, farmers from Ecuador, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria have benefited from EU support to develop high-quality sustainable cocoa production. Finally, long-term EU measures to limit climate change are crucial to preserving cocoa production undermined by rising temperatures and frequent droughts in Africa.

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