Talk:semisweet chocolate

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semisweet chocolate[edit]

Sum of parts? Conrad.Irwin 01:00, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Has a specific regulatory meaning in the US: w:Types of chocolate#United states. -- Visviva 03:42, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I hate to ask, but as applied to chocolate, doesn't semisweet have a specific regulatory meaning in the U.S., and doesn't semisweet chocolate mean simply “chocolate that is semisweet”? —RuakhTALK 05:49, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Seemingly not a regulatory meaning, but I'd agree it has a colloquial one. Seems like a SoP to me, but, then again, I'm not in the food (or food law) field.—msh210 17:48, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
Hm, that link is dead (viz, was temporary). My intent was to show that the part of the Code of Federal Regulations that deals with food labeling refers to "semisweet chocolate" but never just "semisweet". Search for "semisweet" at .—msh210 19:03, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
In that case, keep, I guess. (And, add the relevant portion of the regulation to the entry or its citations page.) We can always define semisweet as “(of chocolate) Being semisweet chocolate.” Alternatively, we can delete [[semisweet]] as "difference of parts". :-P   —RuakhTALK 00:41, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
BTW, the section in question seems to be non-transiently available at <>. —RuakhTALK 00:45, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Is the logic of this is that, if the government defines it, then that is prima facie evidence that it is being used by the regulators and regulatees in exactly the defined (not SoP) sense? If so, the quotidien SoP definition will not suffice. It seems to me that the government definition itself or a non-gloss definition like "used to characterize a type of chocolate that meets CFR Title 21 Part 163, Section 123, 1998" or something better worded that marks its peculiar status is required. Do we have to up the standard for things like the 371 "translingual" Category:E numbers entries, too? (eg E405) DCDuring TALK 01:11, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
To be honest, I wasn't applying very much logic, but if I were to do so, I think my logic would be that it's a fairly common expression, and that the government has imbued it with a specific, presumably legally binding definition. (I admit that I haven't looked into exactly what sort of legal force the government's prescriptivist lexicography might have, but I assume the FDA can enforce it this definition with some combination of inspections, administrative fines, and smackdowns.) The twin senses — “what you mean” and “what the government wants you to mean” — therefore seem worthy of inclusion. —RuakhTALK 02:02, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
It's hard to see how one could do anything but mirror the FDA's best language and provide a link to the full regulatory text. And we should have the access date for the link to remind folks that there is an extra source of unreliability. DCDuring TALK 02:29, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Can anybody provide evidence that semisweet is actually sued for something else than chocolate? Unless it is, I don't see where is the problem. Circeus 03:21, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
The evidence is available at COCA. Semantically chocolate accounts for more than 90% of usage. The other significant usage is wine. DCDuring TALK 12:04, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
That word "semantically" is important. In examples like "semisweet vegan chocolate" and "semisweet gourmet chocolate", I imagine an advertiser would get in trouble if the chocolate didn't constitute "semisweet chocolate". I guess the question is, how much do we trust the government? By a literal reading of the regulation, it only defines "semisweet chocolate", but I expect that it probably also defines "semisweet" as applied to chocolate. —RuakhTALK 13:18, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd bet that they don't define semisweet in the abstract. Because consumers care about taste (grapefruit juice is not sweet, it's sour), but the FDA is concerned with objective testing (grapefruit juice has 80% of the sugar content of orange juice), they would define "semisweet chocolate" with a specific range of testable sugar content, which would not necessarily correspond at all to consumer notion of semisweet taste for another category of food. Also, the other semisweet food item (wine) is under the regulatory jurisdiction of BATF and would appear in a different title of CFR. DCDuring TALK 14:53, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Certainly. In fact, the quotations you see at [[semisweet chocolate]] are all uses of the word "semisweet" anywhere in Title 21. I'm not suggesting that they're defining "semisweet" in the abstract; rather, I'm suggesting that they're defining "semisweet" as applied to chocolate, regardless of whether it's in the actual phrase "semisweet chocolate". (Or am I misunderstanding your comment?) —RuakhTALK 15:00, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm making the argument that their definition is a non-SoP operational definition that is only used in the context of US food manufacture and advertising and their regulation. It is intended to bear a relationship to the SoP ordinary meaning of the term. In the ordinary use of the term "semisweet" the only test instrument is the human tongue. In the FDA use, the tongue is not involved. A tongue could deem something semisweet if an artificial ("non-nutrative") sweetener were involved. The FDA would have to create (has created?) a new definition. DCDuring TALK 16:10, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
In that case, I fully agree with you on everything except the "non-SoP" vs. "SoP" bit. (Not that I disagree on that, just that I'm not sure.) IANAL, and they certainly phrase the regulation as though they're defining the whole phrase "semisweet chocolate", and not either of its component words; but if an advertiser described a chocolate as "semisweet", and it did not in fact meet the FDA's definition of "semisweet chocolate", then I'm guessing they would get in trouble even if they didn't use the actual phrase "semisweet chocolate". That is, I suspect that the P "semisweet" probably has the additional sense "(US law, of chocolate) Being semisweet chocolate." (But since I don't know, and don't know how to find out, I'm not ready to change my vote away from "keep".) —RuakhTALK 17:14, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
I've sent e-mail to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, asking, about the CFR, "Does that mean that a manufacturer can call his product 'semisweet vegan chocolate' or 'semisweet, tasty chocolate' or whatever, even if the product does not satisfy the definition of 'semisweet chocolate' -- since, after all, he's not calling it 'semisweet chocolate'?" Let's see whether anyone gets back to me.—msh210 17:31, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Awesome, thanks! :-)   —RuakhTALK 17:35, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
You didn't have to go to all that trouble - I can tell you that the standards of identity for food are not to be trifled with by the interposition of modifiers! (Which is not to say that manufacturers don't sometimes slip up and do it anyway, and sometimes they either don't get caught or the FDA can't be bothered to deal with a trifle, but the rules on identification of foods do not allow for it). Incidentally (and on a completely tangential note) the reason Cool Whip is called that is because the FDA denied the makers permission to use "whipped cream" in connection with their product. Cheers! bd2412 T 04:19, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
(So far, the FDA has not replied.) What about "chocolate which is semisweet", bd2412?msh210 17:55, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, just to be perfectly clear, are you saying that:
  1. even if you say "semisweet gourmet chocolate", the standards for "semisweet chocolate" still apply? (in this case, "semisweet chocolate" seems to be SOP: "semisweet" has a certain legal definition as applied to chocolate, and "semisweet chocolate" just reflects that, even though an overly-literal interpretation of the regulation would suggest that it's "semisweet chocolate" that has a certain legal definition.); or,
  2. manufacturers are never allowed to say "semisweet gourmet chocolate", because there are no standards for it, but the FDA will sometimes let that slide, as long as the food so labeled does meet the standards for "semisweet chocolate"?
Thanks in advance!
RuakhTALK 19:58, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, keep. Not SoP, because the legal definition of semisweet chocolate does not cover all chocolate which is semisweet, but instead excludes everything but that which falls within the definition. A purveyor of confections who labeled their goods as "semisweet chocolate" when in fact they were a few percentage points outside the definition with respect to an ingredient could find their product seized and destroyed as misbranded. See Regulation of food and dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (which happens to be a particularly awesome 'pedia article). ;-) bd2412 T 04:30, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Keep a simplified legal sense with any full regulatory definition on the citations page. FWIW, "legal status" is number 4 on the "Pawley list", a version of which is here. Also a vernacular sense if it seems to be distinct. Do we need a different context than legal to avoid the implication that this is somehow not related to what is available at stores near you? DCDuring TALK 20:16, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Kept Nobody else wants to delete it. Has its own legal definition too, god enough for me. Good job BD, DCD, Ruakh and msh. --Jackofclubs 10:22, 15 June 2009 (UTC)