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Cadbury Schweppes (Chocolate Contamination)

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Cadbury Schweppes plc first became aware of the risk of contamination of its chocolate at its plant near Leominster; when tests first confirmed the existence of salmonella in its production; when the company first notified (a) the Food Standards Agency and (b) her Department of the (i) risk and (ii) tests results; what requirements are placed on food companies to report such potential contamination; what penalties may be imposed on them for failing to do so in a timely manner; and if she will make a statement. (81092)

Cadbury’s Schweppes plc first informed the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on 19 June 2006 that, in relation to the current incident, they had detected Salmonella contamination of products from their Marlbrook plant in January 2006. The FSA relayed the information to my Department.

Information subsequently provided by the company indicated that contamination of its products with Salmonella Montevideo had been identified in April 2002, but these products were destroyed.

Since 1 January 2005, food businesses operators have been required to inform the competent authorities if they consider, or have reason to believe, that a food which they have imported, produced, processed, manufactured or distributed, is not in compliance with the food safety requirements as set out in article 14 of EC regulation 178/2002.

Under the General Food Regulations 2004, the maximum penalties for not informing the competent authorities as above are two years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.