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Cadbury under pressure from authorities

By staff reporter , 27-Jun-2006

Cadbury Schweppes has come under fire from UK food watchdogs after it failed to report finding traces of a rare strain of salmonella in its products.

Despite discovering the cause of the contamination - a leaking waste water pipe - in January, the company did not report the fault to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) until last week.

Now the FSA have issued a 'food alert' and have warned consumers that the Cadbury's bars pose a food risk.

A million of Cadbury's most popular brands have been taken from shelves in the UK and shares in the company had dipped by 1.2% last night.

According to the Financial Times, the recall is expected to cost Cadbury around €7,239,675

The recalled products are the turkish, caramel and mint varieties of the Dairy Milk range along with the large 8 chunk and 1kg bars. Also in issue were the Dairy Milk Easter Egg and a chocolate bar marketed at younger consumers - Cadbury's Freddo.

At the start of the year, it was discovered that waste water from a plant in Herefordshire had dripped down into the milk chocolate crumb which is blended with other ingredients to make chocolate bars.

The fault was corrected in March and, according to Cadbury, only 'minute' traces of salmonella were found - they deemed the risk too low to alert authorities

Cadbury's European president, Matthew Shattock, told the Guardian newspaper that out of 7,000 samples only 14 were found to contain montevideo salmonella and further testing of 17,000 samples found no trace of it.

But the FSA are urging local authorities to ensure that the products are taken from outlets until they can be certified as posing no health risk.

UK managing director, Simon Baldry, said: "We have taken this precautionary step because our customers are our highest priority. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) are currently carrying out an investigation into an outbreak of the very rare montevideo strain of the bacteria. So far, there have been 45 cases in four months, a huge increase on the 12 reported in the same period last year.

They tested Cadburys products and found traces of the same salmonella in the chocolate, however the HPA is keen to stress that they have not found evidence of a link between these cases and Cadbury's products.

Salmonella bacteria attacks the stomach and intestines, causing nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and, in more serious cases, arthritis.

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