Oreos from the critics: Are the cookies’ black color bad for the environment?

Dutch cocoa factory Olam, located in Koog-on-the-Jaan in northern Holland, has mixed toxic ammonia with ground cocoa beans for years to blacken its famous Oreo cookies, Dutch newspaper Noordolands Dagblad revealed on Tuesday. The Dutch government was aware of such practices.

Over the years, Olam has come under fire from local residents and environmentalists due to its ammonia emissions. The company always defends itself by explaining that ammonia is released naturally during the processing of cocoa beans. However, the company fails to mention that it adds large amounts of ammonia to artificially darken the cocoa.

At Olam’s request, the Dutch environmental agency kept quiet about the addition of tens of thousands of kilograms of ammonia to the process of manufacturing Oreo cookies.

“The final product contains no or very little ammonia”, Defends Eric Nederhand, Olam’s director. “The technical information of each ingredient lists its use as a food additive.” A whistleblower warned the newspaper that the plant was never designed to handle large amounts of ammonia.

“Ammonia seeps into every corner, the stench is overwhelming. The environment? Company executives don’t care. They care about dark cocoa powder and what they’re getting.”He complains.

Mondelez, the maker of Oreo cookies, points out that the packaging lists “ammonium carbonate” as an ingredient. “The use of ammonium carbonate in food does not affect the quality or safety of the product”says Annique Verdegem, spokesperson for the brand.

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