Mars recalls chocolate bars in 55 countries after plastic found in product

CHOCOLATE giant Mars has ordered a massive international recall of Mars and Snickers bars made at its Dutch factory after a piece of red plastic was found in one.

Millions of chocolate bars were deemed possibly unsafe for consumption in 55 countries after a customer in Germany discovered plastic in his Snickers bar on January 8.

The recall, which also affects Milky Way minis and some boxes of Celebrations, hit most European countries and extended as far as Vietnam and Sri Lanka. It is not clear if the recall applies to Australia.

“As far as we know there are 55 countries involved,” Eline Bijveld, Mars corporate affairs co-ordinator for the Netherlands told AFP, refusing to divulge the whole list.

The recall “only involves the products that are made in the Netherlands” at the Mars factory in the southern town of Veghel, she said, adding the products were mainly sold in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. The recall does not extend to the US, the company’s home base.

Bijveld could not give the exact number of chocolate bars produced daily at the factory, but said about four million items were being recalled in the Netherlands alone.

The company traced the contaminated Snickers bar back to a factory in Veghel and determined that the plastic came from a protective cover used in the plant’s manufacturing process.

“We are currently investigating exactly what’s happened, but we cannot be sure that this red piece of plastic isn’t in any other of our products from the same production line,” Bijveld said.

The food giant has decided in a “voluntary” fashion and “out of precaution” to go ahead with the recall, adding it was an “isolated incident and strictly limited.”

Manufacturing dates for the different products vary, but in general those with a “best-before” date of between June 19, 2016 and January 8, 2017 are being recalled.

“This is a very special situation,” Bijveld said. “At this moment maybe the risk is not that high, but we cannot say this is in line with our quality requirements.”

Mars had taken the decision to “recall all products that may be involved, but that’s only because we cannot be 100 per cent sure that they are not.”

The confectioner, which also makes M&Ms chocolates and Wrigley’s chewing gum, said a full list of affected products could be found on its national websites, but they appeared to be down overnight.

It is the first time that Mars has had to recall products made at its Veghel factory, which opened in 1963 and employs about 1200 people.

Mars, a family-owned company since it was founded in 1911, recorded annual global sales of around $US33 billion.

The rival of Kraft Foods and Nestle employs more than 18,400 people in Europe alone and operates in 74 countries worldwide.