Now this is serious

I have lived through some troubled times, and seen some scary headlines in my day. But in all my years, nothing made my blood run cold like the headline I saw this evening as I came in:

Cadbury’s recalls over 1 million chocolate bars.

As I have mentioned before, I am a traditionally built lady, as Alexander McCall Smith would say, and prone to the odd square of chocolate. It seems that Cadbury’s quality control found traces of salmonella in the chocolate, but that they are satisfied now that the problem is under control. While I would be inclined to take my chances, it is a great relief to know the good people at my favourite factory have things back in order. Phew!

  • donagh

    Must be the cream eggs…

  • Miss Fitz

    LOL Donagh. I was trying to work that in and couldnt think how! Was going to boil the chocolate for 3 mintues, or roll it down a hill, so thank you for being succint!

  • Dualta

    Miss Fitz,
    Your post reminds me of a joke told by that NI comedian, Spike or Spider is he name.

    “The Ulster Council Worker’s Strike,” he said. “That was bad. North Down got it really hard in them days. You couldn’t get aubergines for love nor money.” :OP

  • Pete Baker

    On a more worrying note, Cadbury’s are reported to have known of the risk in January.. but waited until they had to act..

    The leak was discovered in January with samples sent to an independent laboratory where a rare strain of salmonella was identified.

    Government watchdog the Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed the strain and, a week ago, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was alerted.

  • Miss Fitz

    Hang on Pete
    The leak was found in January, but the presence of this rare strain of salmonella was not confirmed until this week.

    At least, that is what I read in your link. Dont be dissing the chocolate folk, God forbid they should withdraw ALL the product……..

  • Pete Baker

    Hang on, Miss Fitz.. 😉

    While I do take your point, the link does state that “a week ago, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was alerted.”

    That would seem to imply that Cadbury’s waited, as they are probably entitled to under the legislation, until the HPA confirmed the findings of the independent laboratory.. although that does call into question what the independent lab is doing there in the first place..

  • Pete Baker

    Not to mention the five month wait between the initial warning and the final confirmation of the danger..

  • Miss Fitz

    Right, so really neither of us are sure. There is really no implication, rather there is an ambivalent statement that could be interpreted in either your or my fashion.

    The FSA was alerted a week ago, but there is no absolute indication as to when the nice people at Cadbury’s knew the facts.

    Personally, I go with them only finding out last week, and immediately doing the right thing.

    Pete, if your conscience is clear, you can go with the other theory….. ((shakes head like Pete)

  • Henry94

    Q who is the head of the Cadbury family?

    A. Don Curly-Wurly

  • Dualta

    Henry!

    Go to your room!

  • Pete Baker

    Hmmm…

    There doesn’t seem to be an ambivalence about when the warning was raised.. that was in January.. but Cadbury’s waited, as they are probably entitled to under law, until the findings were finally confirmed, by the body that could sanction them, before acting.

    My point is that, while acting strictly within their legal requirements.. they potentially exposed consumers of their product.

    No biggy. I don’t think they acted illegally.

    But the five month wait should be worrying.

  • Miss Fitz

    No Pete. The leak was found in January. There was no indication on either the Cadbury’s site or the FSA site as to when there was a positive confirmation as to the presence of salmonella montevideo.

    As far as the reports are concerned, this is a rare strain of salmonella, and it would have to be cultured, grown and identified in the laboratory. It is not unreasonable to imagine that this would have taken quite some time. When you come across a rare bacterium, it may have to be cross checked at other labs across the world, although computer checking is probably speeding this up.

    The 5 month wait might be worrying if intentional, negligent or potentially life threatening. From what I have read, it is none of those.

    Cadbury;s did not neccesarily wait while in the possession of certain knowledge. Dont forget, this stuff is sampled on a very regular basis, and I am more inclined to acknowledge and salute their resolute action in recalling the product.

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s the thing, Miss Fitz, and I don’t necessarily disagree with your overall analysis… but:

    The contamination was caused by a leaking pipe at Cadbury’s Marlbrook plant, near Leominster, Herefordshire.

    The leak was discovered in January with samples sent to an independent laboratory where a rare strain of salmonella was identified.

    So, the potential was certainly identified in January.. the date of the actual identification of the strain may be open to dispute, although I doubt that it had to wait the five months for the confirmation from the HPA..

    As I’ve already suggested, it’s most likely a standard procedure.. my point was, and remains, that five months seems an inordinate amount of time to wait in the circumstances.

  • Miss Fitz

    Pete
    I know that years ago, when I worked in a hosptial setting, we could have waited months for confirmation of certain strains of bacteria. Now, I would bow to your superior knowledge or experience, but my own background allows me to accept this kind of time lapse.

    I suspect that if something well-known or potentially dangerous had been identified, it would have led to an immediate red flag situation. When a more benign substance is being definitively identified, a less swingeing approach is taken.

    Without the full facts, its hard to tell, but I suspect Cadburys have gone beyond what was required of them. They have an excellent track record in the century they have been producing chocolate, so I genuinely believe that they have taken the path of most caution.

    As I said, if your knowledge of microbiology is better than mine, fair enough, but I am not in the least bit surprised or concerned, nor do I think the time lag was inordinate.

    BTW, this was meant to be a light hearted post, you know, chocolate and all of that……. There are times a wee bit of lightness helps when there is so much doom and gloom

  • it came from a leaking pipe !
    why were they piping in salmonella in the first place ?

  • Rory

    You speak of a time when you “Worked in a hospital setting”, Miss Fitz. Setting what may I ask? Jelly? Did you always take precautions to ensure it was salmonella free? I think the public have a right to know.

    Just learned there’s no cause for concern – Crunchie bars are unaffected.

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh Rory
    I set the trends, or wouldn’t ya know!

  • Rory

    Lordy, Miss Fitz, this hasn’t half got me into some hot water. When I mentioned it to Herself she gave me one of her withering looks and said,

    “You silly fool. Do you not consider that in a hospital it would be the bones of broken limbs that need setting?”

    “Of course I did”, I lied, “I just assumed she worked in the hospital kitchen”.

    Then Herslf mutters, “Idiot” and cracks me round the ear with a wooden spoon.

    Still it could have been worse. If she had been setting a trifle she might have slammed it down over my ears.

  • Pete Baker

    I doubt there’s any serious risk to public health, Miss Fitz, but I can only make an assessment of the situation based on what facts are available, rather than trusting the company involved.

    What appears to have been the problem is that the advice given to Cadbury’s, in January, was that there was no need to recall the products.

    Either the HPA, or the Food Standards Agency, when they were informed, disagreed – i.e. the products should have been recalled at the point the potential for contamination was discovered.. hence the reported investigations by both the HPA and the Food Standards Agency.

    ANYway.. back to the humorous thread 😉

  • Miss Fitz

    Pete
    Far be it from me to want the last word….. lol

    I listened to the spokesman from Cadbury’s today, and he maintained that there was no actual connection between the leaking pipe and the salmonella contamination. He aslo said, intersestingly enough, that the company was only informed on Monday about the problem.

    So, if that is the case, and if we can believe the nice people at Cadbury’s, then they did not wait 5 months to withdraw their product.

    It appears to be contentious though, and perhaps more facts will filter out.

    Rory….. I must send you of my old pics from the Bronx, we looked very ER chic, with short skirts and t-shirts. Now that might really get you into trouble with the good lady

  • Pete Baker

    The last word, Miss Fitz.. promise 😉

    The Guardian may overstate the case, but does point to the disagreement between Cadbury’s and the FSA over when action should have been taken.

    BTW, I think you may have misheard the company spokesman. From what I can gather, the notification to the FSA came from Cadbury’s only when they discovered that there was an ongoing investigation into the rise this year [from 12 cases in 2005, to 45 in 2006] of infections in children involving this rare strain of salmonella.

    Cadbury’s didn’t act in January, when they discovered they had a problem during routine testing of their products [ie testing for salmonella and other contaminents], because they maintain there was no risk because the levels of contamination were too low to cause a problem. And, according to the Guardian’s report, they continued production.

    The FSA maintain that any level of salmonella in ready-to-eat foods represents a risk and they should have been notified when the company discovered they had a problem in January.

  • Con

    Are Cadburys Ireland products manufactured in Ireland?
    If so, then you really have nowt to worry about, if it is manufactured here in GB then why does the missus insist on me going to the wee sweet shop in Queens Arcade next to Boots every time I go home, for an industrial size order of chocolate?