05 July 2006

The Web
Business Today

Salmonella prompts costly recall for Cadbury importers

Matthew Vella

The recall of seven Cadbury brands from the store shelves, after the discovery of a rare strain of Salmonella in Britain, is expected to run up a bill of between Lm2,000 and Lm3,000 for importers Paolo Bonnici Ltd.
A rare strain of salmonella was found in the British manufacturer’s chocolate crumb when British health and food authorities identified a link between the company and the contamination.
Cadbury was forced to recall more than 1 million bars of chocolate because the base ingredient used in their production had been contaminated with salmonella at its Herefordshire factory. Only seven brands have been recalled, even though contaminated chocolate crumb was fed over a three-week period into silos used to make about 30 other Cadbury brands.
A spokesperson for Paolo Bonnici Ltd said recalling the brands required calling every single client who purchased the brands since March 2006. Today, a whole day will be spent collecting the products, which are not expected to exceed the half-ton mark.
“The brands are not fast sellers, but collecting them will still cost a lot of money, man hours, and of course credit notes have to be issued to the clients. At this stage, money is no object, although costs will run into thousands, probably not more than Lm3,000.”
On Monday, the British Food Standards Agency said Cadbury’s system for checking the safety of its products was unreliable, out of date and underestimated the level and likelihood of salmonella contamination.
The FSA believes the salmonella strain may have contaminated many more of the company’s brands, because the mix used in the seven products that were taken off the shelves was also the base ingredient in other brands.
Cadbury first detected a rare strain of salmonella its chocolate crumb mix of sugar, milk and cocoa, in January.
The contamination was uncovered when the health protection agency noticed an increase in reported cases of salmonella Montevideo. A private laboratory used by Cadbury had separately sent nine anonymous samples of the bacteria to the Health Protection Authority for identification and the HPA noticed a possible link. Since the laboratory declined to identify its client, the HPA informed the FSA on 16 June. The FSA then contacted the lab, and on 19 July Cadbury admitted the salmonella samples were from its chocolate products. The company said the salmonella had been detected at such low levels it had decided it was not a risk and had therefore not notified the FSA. The FSA said it was surprised by the delay.


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