SOY’S SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN CHOCOLATE
Colors of pink and red are filling grocery stores, reminding us that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. As you browse the aisles of teddy bears, flowers, and boxes of chocolates, you may wonder what’s in those sweet chocolate treats that you give to your loved ones each year.
If you look at the ingredient list on the back of your favorite chocolate bars, one ingredient you might see listed is soy lecithin. This phospholipid, which is a fancy word for “fat”, is the most common type of lecithin on the market and it plays a very important role in your favorite chocolate treats.
Where does soy lecithin come from?
When soybeans are turned into vegetable oil they undergo a degumming process. Degumming is a process for removal of phosphatides from crude soybean oil to improve physical stability and facilitate further processing. After this process we are left with soy lecithin. Since it is a byproduct of vegetable oil, soy lecithin in chocolate helps reduce waste in the production process.
What does soy lecithin do?
Soy lecithin is commonly found in processed foods as an emulsifier/stabilizer or a surfactant. The role of an emulsifier or stabilizer is to help water and oil bind together, which without the soy lecithin could not happen easily. The role of a surfactant is to reduce the surface tension of liquids which allows them to spread out faster and be absorbed quicker. This is how you can add water to cake mixes and not have lumps in your batter!
How much soy is in your chocolate?
If you read the ingredients list of a chocolate bar, soy lecithin is usually one of the last ingredients. This is because a little lecithin goes a long way and is a very effective ingredient. Other products like cocoa butter have similar qualities but are far more expensive and require much more product to do the same thing soy does.
When you pick up a gift for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, you can rest easy knowing chocolates are safe and sustainably produced with ingredients that are trusted by farmers everywhere.