Durable, healthy chocolate developed

Australian Army scientists have invented a vitamin-packed chocolate that will not melt in high temperatures and last for years.

Scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) at Scottsdale near Launceston are working on the super chocolate for army ration packs using in harsh environments in countries including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The chocolate will be distributed to soldiers within a few months.

DSTO food technologist Lan Bui said the new product is more granular and firmer but the flavour is still appealing: "DSTO is looking at product reformulation, including new fat compounds, to improve texture and flavour, without affecting the melting point."

Normal chocolate melts at 25oC to 30oC. The new version is expected to survive meltdown in temperatures up to 49oC.

The secret to the chocolate is using fats that have a higher melting point. It is fortified with vitamins C, A and B1 (thiamine) and has added flavours to preserve taste for up to two years.

The breakthrough has a number of applications. Scientists are working with food experts on coating vitamins to keep out humidity, moisture and oxygen while allowing them to be slowly released into the body.

The DSTO is developing a milk chocolate version. Production of the prototype dark chocolate will begin within a year.

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