Mars founds plastic in chocolate bars in 55 countries

A piece of red plastic found in Snickers bar leads to recall in 55 counties including England, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

Mars initiated the worldwide recall of huge amount of chocolate bars because of fears of customers' suffocation cases.

This recall could cost the company tens of millions of dollars.

A customer from Germany found a bit of red plastic in a Snickers bar on 8 January. After this complain to the manufacturer, the plastic was followed back to its industrial facility in the town of Veghel in south Netherlands where it was defined that the plastic bit came from a defensive spread utilized as a part of the manufacturing process.

As the company states on Tuesday, suspicious products include bars of Mars, Milky Way, Snickers, Celebrations and Mini Mix. Spokespeople of Mars announced it was a “voluntary” measure and was being done as a precautionary one.

Britain was “hardly impacted” as the recall related only to fun-size packs says a spokeswoman for Mars in the UK. Mars was not able to give figures for the quantity of products which would need to be taken off racks.

A representative for Mars Netherlands informed that the company cannot be sure that the similar plastic bits will not be found other products. They want to be sure that their products meet the market's quality requirements, so this decision to take all of them back was inevitable.

The Netherlands's corporate affairs coordinator for Mars, Eline Bijveld, mentionned that so far there are 55 countries involved and Mars continues investigation on what has exactly happened, but they cannot be sure that the bit of plastic isn’t in any other of our products produced at the same line.

Therefore, Mars has decided in a “voluntary” fashion and “out of precaution” to announce the recall, which covers generally European countries, additionally Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The recall did not stretch out to the US, Bijveld added.

The items being recalled in the UK have expiry dates starting from May 2016 to October 2016.

It is the first time the food multinational has had to recall items made at its Veghel facility, which opened in 1963. Overall market share of Mars in the west European chocolate market is around 12%.

Neil Saunders, an analyst at the Conlumino retail consultancy, says that Mars’s recall was different from the problems at VW, where dishonesty and fraud were involved, and the horsemeat scandal, where dishonesty and a wide-scale failure of the supply chain were to blame, but nevertheless "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" in the short and medium term, because “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.”

Mars is more likely will lose up to $2.5m of sales in the following few months as a result of the recall, said Alicia Forry, a consumer good analyst at Canaccord Genuity. This forecast is based on the assumption that it is a simple manufacturing fix. In case the problem is much more serious this recall would get worse and the lost sales would increase. In the meantime, it is expected that Mondelēz [manufacturer of Cadbury], Nestle [manufacturer of KitKat] and Ferrero, will benefit. Just ahead of Easter, it isn't good timing for Mars.

In order to prevent such serious losses, the food manufacturers are forced to search for newest "see through" solutions based on non-destructive test technologies, like the one produced by TeraSesnse Group, Inc.

The High Speed Line Scanner employs terahertz waves to determine foreign objects inside various food products on conveyor belt lines running up to 15 m/s. Unlike X-rays, terahertz radiation does not have ionising effect, which makes the use of terahertz harmless to people, living beings and absolutely safe for food testing. The Scanner's  unprecedented imaging speed of 5000 frames per second and ease of integration into any industrial process makes it unique and indispensable tool for a number of industries and applications.

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