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Cadbury probe set to receive cash boost

By Catherine Boal , 30-Aug-2006

The UK Cadbury salmonella scare continues to dog the company as its local council applies for around £30,000 (€44,500) in funding to investigate safety breaches at the factory where contamination occurred.

Herefordshire Council (HC) - who govern the area where the factory leak was found - has asked health watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), for a substantial sum to help them fight a case against the chocolate maker.

In June Cadbury was forced to recall seven brands in Britain when they were linked to a salmonella outbreak affecting 37 people. The company discovered the montevideo strain of the bacteria in its products after a leaking pipe dripped contaminated water into a vat of chocolate crumb base.

 

In order to mount an effective investigation, the HC has applied to the Fighting Fund scheme run by the FSA whereby aid is given to local authorities who do not have sufficient resources to investigate fully.

 

HC spokesman John Burnett told confectionerynews.com: "In cases of national significance the FSA can give funding to help with our finite resources so we can concentrate on other routine investigations taking place."

 

He confirmed that the council was currently assessing plant procedures and reviewing paperwork at Cadburys with a view to prosecuting the company.

 

The HC's application to the FSA fund must go before a panel which decides on the amount to award, meaning it could be months before a decision is made.

 

If a prosecution is successfully brought by the Council, Cadbury could see UK sales plummeting and may have to revise their original loss estimate of £20m.

 

And further costs could arise after several salmonella sufferers made known their intention to seek legal action in private suits against the confectionery giant.

 

The scare generated a lot of negative publicity for the company when it arose that the chocolate maker knew of the contamination and yet did not alert authorities until several months later as it deemed the risk to consumers too low.

 

According to a UK regulatory report, the company failed to correctly implement EU-wide guidelines laid down by international food safety codes, known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) analysis.

 

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