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Cadbury tries to clean up its act

By staff reporter , 11-Jul-2006

Cadbury Schweppes has been forced to improve cleaning processes at its Herefordshire factory after last month's recall of Salmonella-contaminated products.

The confectionery giant came under fire with the news last week that it had failed to follow correct EU safety procedures.

Following a meeting with the UK government's food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and environmental health officers, Cadbury has now agreed to undertake 'remedial action', which will involve changing cleaning regimes in the plant and stepping up testing for a wider range of products.

 

Cadbury's failure to follow hygiene rules on testing, which came into effect on 1 January this year, serves as a warning to other processors who may also have been tardy in making sure the new system is in place at all their plants.

 

In a statement, Cadbury Schweppes said it was"moving to a protocol in which any product evidencing contamination is destroyed."

 

According to the FSA, Cadbury has pledged to carry out a positive release system whereby products will only be released for consumption if they test negative for the salmonella bacteria.

 

Previously the company did not engage in the precautionary testing of all products, which EU regulations now demand. Instead, the emphasis was on end-product testing, meaning the contamination was not found until the chocolate was already available on the market.

 

Managing director Simon Baldry said: "We regret any concern the recent recall may have caused to our customers. We have always acted in good faith and we are happy to change our procedures."

 

In addition, sampling and testing chocolate will be more widespread in order to increase the chances of catching any further contamination if it occurs.

 

The initial Salmonella montevideo outbreak occurred when Cadbury failed to correctly implement EU safety guidelines known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) analysis.

 

Since then the company have had to pull over a million chocolate bars from shelves in the UK and decided to suspend a major TV advertising contract.

 

The full financial impact of the incident will not be known until Cadbury Schweppes releases their annual results on August 2.

 

Cadbury's investment broker, JP Morgan Cazenove, estimated that the outbreak could cost as much as £20m (€29m) in sales after a loss of consumer confidence in the brand.

 

The FSA and UK health watchdog, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) are continuing their investigations and the confectioner may be subject to disciplinary action for failure to alert authorities until two months after they had discovered the fault.

 

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