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

Categories: Food

Red plastic has been found in mars products and a recall has been issued.

German Mars products with a best before date from 19 June 2016 to 8 January 2017 are affected by the recall. Photograph: Alamy

Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany are affected by recall after customer finds piece of red plastic in Snickers bar

An international recall of a range of chocolate bars has been announced by Mars because of fears that customers could choke on pieces of plastic.

The recall, which affects 55 countries, could end up costing the company tens of millions of dollars.

Mars announced the recall after a customer found a piece of red plastic in a Snickers bar bought in Germany on 8 January. After he complained to the company, the plastic was traced back to its factory in the southern Dutch town of Veghel, where it was determined that the piece came from a protective cover used in the manufacturing process.

Products affected include bars of Mars, Milky Way, Snickers, Celebrations and Mini Mix, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the company. The recall was a “voluntary” one and was being done as a precautionary measure, spokespeople for Mars said.

A spokeswoman for Mars in the UK said Britain was “hardly impacted” and that the recall related only to fun-size packs. Mars was unable to give figures for the number of products which would have to be taken off shelves.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency said Mars had confirmed products which had been recalled in the Netherlands and Germany had been distributed in the UK. The FSA added that it was awaiting full details from the company. One option would be for it to issue an order for a recall.

A spokeswoman for Mars Netherlands said: “We cannot be sure that this plastic was only in that particular Snickers. We do not want any products on the market that may not meet our quality requirements, so we decided to take them all back.”

Eline Bijveld, Mars’ corporate affairs coordinator for the Netherlands, added: “As far as we know there are 55 countries involved. We are 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.”

As a result, the food multinational has decided in a “voluntary” fashion and “out of precaution” to issue the recall, which covers mostly European countries, but also Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The recall did not extend to the US, Bijveld added.

The products being recalled in the UK have expiry dates ranging from May 2016 to October 2016

Mars in Germany confirmed that it was one of the countries affected, and said in a statement that the recall affected products with best before dates from 19 June 2016 to 8 January 2017.

The Mars website appeared to be straining under pressure on Tuesday, with pages not responding. People meanwhile took to social media to express concern and ridicule the recall. “Mars is the new VW?” suggested one Twitter user, Bernhard Jenny, in GermanIt is the first time Mars has had to recall products made at its Veghel factory, which opened in 1963 and employs about 1,200 people. Overall, Mars has about a 12% share of the west European chocolate market.

Neil Saunders, an analyst at the Conlumino retail consultancy, said: “While it’s a precautionary measure it will have a significant financial cost attached, certainly running into tens of millions of dollars. The cost comes directly from the recall process, the loss of writing off products, and from lost sales.”

He said sales would be lost as a result of repetitional damage, and would be a concern over the short and medium term. “People will be more reluctant to buy the affected Mars products while this remains fresh in their memories. That said, by acting swiftly, opening and comprehensively, Mars has likely limited long term repetitional damage – especially so as the foreign object is relatively benign.”

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