In Brief

Mars orders mass recall of chocolate bars

Products withdrawn from shelves in voluntary measure after a piece of plastic is found in a Snickers bar in Germany

Confectionary giant Mars had ordered a mass recall in "dozens" of countries, including the UK, after plastic was found in one of its products.

Certain fun-size and miniature Mars, Milky Way and Snickers bars, as well as boxes of Celebrations, have been withdrawn from shelves as a "precautionary measure".

The move comes after a red piece of plastic discovered in a Snickers bar in Germany last month was traced back to a factory in the southern Dutch town of Veghel. The plastic belonged to a piece of protective casing on one of the factory's machines, Mars Netherlands said in a statement explaining the voluntary recall.

"We cannot be sure that this red piece of plastic isn't in any of our other products," it added.

The affected products were produced between 5 December last year and 18 January, with best-before dates ranging from 19 June this year to 8 January 2017. They would have "Mars Netherlands" printed on the label.

Having initially said the recall would be effective in 55 countries, the Financial Times notes that Mars has since confirmed this was not accurate. It now says the products were sold in "dozens of European countries" and at duty-free outlets, meaning they were also shipped to an unknown number of non-EU countries.

While some may have made it into British stores – which was also confirmed in statements to the Food Standards Agency – a spokesman for Mars UK told The Guardian the country was "hardly impacted".

Retail analyst Neil Sanders said the cost of the recall will probably run into tens of millions of dollars, with the hit being exacerbated by a wider blow to sales as worried consumers switch to rivals. "People will be more reluctant to buy the affected Mars products while this remains fresh in their memories," he said.

But by acting "swiftly, opening and comprehensively", the company is likely to have limited long term reputational damage, he added.

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