Has your chocolate been quarantined?
Chances are it has. Did you know that the United Kingdom is home to the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre located just outside of Reading in Berkshire and is part of the University of Reading.
In their native countries cocoa plants can attract a wide variety of nasty and terrible diseases including ‘frosty pod’ and ‘witches broom’ which can in bad years destroy as much as 40 per cent of the total cocoa crop annually. Such devastation leads to shortages in supply and price hikes for chocolate in the shops around the world.
Therefore the centre was established to ensure that the diseases are not transported by the plants themselves around the world. Each plant in the centre spends two years at the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre being tested for any signs of disease. If none are detected it is allowed to be transported and replanted in tropical locations where cocoa plants grow naturally.
But why have the centre in Reading as it is so far away from the tropics. The answer is extremely simple the United Kingdoms rotten, cold and miserable weather. Under our climate the tropical diseases don’t stand a chance!