Chocoholics may be dismayed to learn that Eurochocolate, the gluttonous festival scheduled for Rome 1-9 March, has been clouded by controversy.

Protests from the no-global forum have led to the exclusion from the festival of Nestl, which in Italy owns Baci-producing Perugina. The company has long been criticised by no-global, humanitarian and medical associations because its sale of powdered milk as a breast milk substitute in developing countries.

Roman chocolate retailers are disgruntled because they fear a repeat of last year, when they lost out to participants selling chocolate Easter eggs. This year, the association of Roman traders has demanded that the dates of the festival do not coincide with any major holidays.

On a related issue, Italy and Spain are being forced by the European Union to change their laws defining chocolate. The ruling means that these countries will have to accept as “chocolate” products that contain up to 5 per cent non-cocoa butter vegetable fats. The ruling comes into effect in August and will mainly benefit British-based manufacturers of "chocolate derivatives". Eurochocolate will be held 1-9 March. There will be conferences, a course leading to a “Masters degree” in chocolate on 8-9 March, tastings and demonstrations, and special events on 8 March for the Festa della Donna. For information freephone 800586001, or see www.eurochocolate.roma.it.