For our Frozen Italian Dessert, can we refer to this collection of ingredients as “chocolate coating”: sugar, palm oil, cocoa powder and soy lecithin?
(May 2011) No. You would need to identify the above ingredients as chocolate flavored coating since the standard of identity for sweet chocolate (21CFR163.123) is not met. The key difference in your ingredients and those of standardized chocolate is the use of palm oil instead of cocoa butter. Though it does not apply to this situation, it is worthy of noting that some chocolate food items that are flavored only with cocoa and not expected to contain the other elements of standardized chocolate (such as chocolate milk and chocolate pudding) can be called chocolate as outlined in the FDA Compliance Policy Guide. The Compliance Policy Guide states non-standardized food product that contains cocoa as the chocolate flavoring ingredient may bear the term “chocolate” so long as it can be demonstrated that consumers have long recognized that the food product may be made from cocoa and do not expect it to contain some other chocolate ingredient.