Positive reactions prevail.
Chocolate makes you happy. For 5% of Germans, this is not necessarily true, however, as they have an allergy or intolerance to certain foodstuffs. But even allergy sufferers can find a chocolate that suits them just fine.
According to an EU directive, since 25 November 2005 it has been obligatory to list all the most common allergens on product labels. We thus have a list of ingredients and a product profile for each of our chocolate bars, with the allergens marked in bold. Apart from this, the chocolate may also contain technologically unavoidable traces of allergens due to the way the raw materials and chocolate are manufactured.
Here, once more, is an overview of all the allergens which may be found in our chocolate:
Gluten is a natural protein composite found in the grains wheat, rye, oats, barley and ripe or unripe spelt. In chocolate, gluten is mainly used as a baking ingredient in wafers or biscuit.
If an intolerance to this grain protein appears during childhood, this is known as coeliac disease; if the same occurs in adulthood it is called sprue. If your body has an allergic reaction to gluten, the villi lining the intestine are truncated and the mucosal lining of the bowel becomes inflamed. Your body is increasingly unable to absorb nutrients, leading to symptoms of deficiency. The only way to treat this is to avoid the trigger factor by going your entire life without eating gluten.
Instead, you can eat rice, maize, buckwheat, millet, soya, quinoa or amaranth.
People who are allergic to cow's milk are oversensitive to the proteins which the milk contains. The protein components in cow's milk which most frequently trigger allergic reactions are alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin and casein. These allergens have widely differing physical properties. For example, boiling milk reduces the allergenic properties of lactalbumin, making it digestible. Casein, meanwhile, is heat-resistant. In case of doubt, dairy products should generally be avoided.
However, milk also contains lactose, a natural component of milk in mammals. In cow's milk there is about 4.5–5% and in breast milk there is a whole 7%. Lactose has some beneficial physiological nutritional properties and considerably improves the resorption of calcium and other minerals. Moreover, lactose has a positive effect on the intestinal flora. For the human body to process lactose, lactase is required: an enzyme produced naturally in the body. This separates the lactose into the two simple sugars galactose and glucose. If your body does not produce this enzyme, this is called a lactose intolerance.
It is only thanks to centuries of habituation that human beings are able to tolerate and process other mammals' milk at all. In cultures where milk, and especially cow's milk, is not an everyday foodstuff, there are thus more lactose-intolerant people. In Thailand, for example, the figure lies at almost 100%.
In the food industry, lactose is used to coat pills and tablets, to bind fats in baked goods, as extenders, binding agents and adsorption agents, and as carriers for flavors, etc. In chocolate, lactose rounds off what is known as the sweetening profile, underlining the milky taste.
The hazelnut is a shrub in the birch family. Both the pollen and the nuts often cause allergies. Many people, especially those allergic to birch pollen, thus suffer from allergies during the flowering season or after eating raw hazelnuts. If their immune system reacts to a combination of the pollen and the foodstuff, this is also known as a “pollen-related food allergy”.
Nuts are relatively common, strong allergens. People suffering from a nut allergy often react to contact in the form of swelling of the mucous membrane in the mouth and throat, which can be extremely dangerous depending on the level of sensitivity.
Hazelnuts are often used in chocolate production as whole or chopped nuts, in the form of praline or simply to improve the taste of many bars. If the hazelnuts are roasted, their allergenic activity is reduced, but allergy sufferers should always ask a doctor before enjoying them in any form. Like the hazelnut, almonds are also an indehiscent fruit (a fruit which does not split open upon maturity), as are berries and citrus fruits. For this reason, the same is true of marzipan or chocolate with almonds: nut allergy sufferers, take care!
Despite its name, the peanut is not actually a nut but, botanically, a legume. For this reason, it contains a great deal of protein.
A peanut intolerance is considered the most dangerous of all food allergies and is due to its high protein content. Children, especially, are often allergic to peanuts. Even tiny amounts of peanut can set off an allergic reaction and, if the worst comes to the worst, death by suffocation. People with a peanut allergy thus have to avoid all foods which contain even traces of peanuts. Peanuts are found as additives in many finished products.
Chicken's eggs are used to produce various types of baked goods, and are thus also found in chocolate. Both the egg white and the egg yolk contain proteins which can trigger an allergy, though the egg white contains the most allergenic proteins. Egg allergies are rare and occur mainly in babies and young children. Depending on the type of protein responsible for the allergy, the triggering reaction may be prevented through heating.
Soya is used as an emulsifier during chocolate production. It not only makes the chocolate flow more easily, but also creates that pleasant feeling when it melts in your mouth. Soya allergies are especially common among very young people. Children who are allergic to cow's milk are often also allergic to soya milk.