Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Caffeinated chocolate

Alarming news today from British regulators who say there's substantial amounts of caffeine in all chocolate. Sometime ago I reassured myself there was hardly any in chocolate - and that I could continue snacking on otherwise healthy dark chocolate.

Not so, according to the Food Standards Agency. It's not they are taking any interest in salicylates; far more serious is that they have linked caffeine to the health of new-born babies and urged pregnant women to cut down.

Now the FSA says four 50g bars of plain chocolate a day is equivalent to two mugs of caffeinated instant coffee. Those are small bars and that's quite a lot of coffee. I buy chocolate in 200mg bars and probably get through one bar in three or four days - so that's the equivalent half a mug of caffeinated coffee a day. That could explain some of the minor salicylate reactions I suffer now and again.

The full FSA list is interesting as it tells you the caffeine contained in each item:
* 2 mugs of instant coffee (100mg each)
* 1 mug of filter coffee (140mg each)
* 2 mugs of tea (75mg each)
* 5 cans of cola (up to 40mg each)
* 2 cans of 'energy' drink (up to 80mg each)
* 4 (50g) bars of plain chocolate (up to 50 mg each). Caffeine in milk chocolate is about half that of plain chocolate
So what about decaf coffee? I googled "decaf chocolate" and came up with a some interesting links. I don't think anyone has made decaf chocolate.

But US chocolate maker Hershey doesn't seem to think it is necessary. If you follow the link it's worth noting that their dark chocolate bar contains more than three times as much caffeine as their ordinary bar. It could be their chocolate doesn't contain much caffeine because it does not contain much chocolate.

Now I don't know what to do. I've relied on chocolate to keep me going - chocolate desserts, chocolate snacks, chocolate drinks. I'll have to cut down!


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