Worms in Cadbury Dairy Milk Roasted Almond! Declared ‘unsafe to consume’ by Telangana Food Lab

However, Mondelez India Foods Private Limited claims that no deviation of any kind has been observed in any of the samples checked.

BySumit Jha

Published Feb 28, 2024 | 7:07 PMUpdatedFeb 28, 2024 | 7:07 PM

The bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk with worms. (Screengrab)

When you eat a bar of chocolate, you expect to be hit by sweet decadence — NOT WORMS AND WEBS!

Telangana State Food Laboratory (SFL) has officially deemed Cadbury Dairy Milk (Roasted Almond) as “unsafe to consume” following the discovery of white worms and webs in a chocolate bar purchased by Hyderabad resident Robin Zaccheus from a Ratnadeep retail outlet.

The Chief Public Analyst of the State Food Laboratory of Telangana stated in a report, “I am of the opinion that the sample contains white worms and webs. Hence, it is considered unsafe under Section 3.1(zz)(iii)(ix) of the Food Safety & Standard Act, 2006.”

Out of the two Dairy Milk chocolates submitted by Robin for testing, the one with roasted almonds was flagged as unsafe due to the presence of white worms and webs, while the second chocolate — Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut — was labelled as “not unsafe”.

The case

The incident unfolded on 9 February when Robin Zaccheus posted video clips showcasing a live worm crawling on a freshly-opened Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar with roast almonds. The footage included the bill from Ratnadeep supermarket at the Ameerpet Metro Railway Station.

“Found a worm crawling in Cadbury chocolate purchased at Ratnadeep Retail at Ameerpet Metro station on 9 February. Is there a quality check for these near-to-expiry products? Who is responsible for public health hazards?” he asked, tagging the manufacturer Dairy Milk, Ratnadeep, L&T Metro, and GHMC authorities in a post on X.

On 12 February, food safety officials from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) conducted an inspection of the supermarket chain store in response to the complaint.

The designated Food Safety Officer investigated the store and collected samples from the same batch number. As a precautionary measure, the company was directed to recall all products associated with that particular batch.

Speaking to South First, Robin said, “I also sent an email to the company and they replied on 13 February, saying that the outlet has not stored the chocolate as per norms.”

Robin had further inquired with the food safety inspector about the procedure for testing the chocolates he had bought and submitted both to the State Food Laboratory on 14 February.

“On 27 February, I obtained the report from the State Food Laboratory, declaring one of the chocolates as ‘unsafe to consume’,” Robin revealed.

Also Read: CAG report lays bare Telangana’s lagging expenditure in Health sector

Company shirks responsibility, blames store 

Meanwhile, Robin also filed a complaint with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), prompting Mondelez India Foods Private Limited — the company that owns the Cadbury brand — to deny any wrongdoing on 15 February.

In a response to Robin’s complaint to the FSSAI, Mondelez India said, “…the consumer had contacted our Consumer Care helpline via email on Saturday, 10 February. In response, our Consumer Care Executive met him (Robin) on Sunday, 11 February, 2024 to attend to the complaint. The consumer chose not to handover the complaint sample to the executive. Upon it being clarified that it is standard procedure to have the sample collected so that the same may be examined by our Site Quality Team, the consumer allowed our executive to only take pictures.”

However, Robin explained his decision, “I was not sure that the company would conduct a fair investigation so I did not hand over the sample. I gave it to the government agency to uncover the truth, which they have now uncovered.”

Mondelez further told FSSAI that they have carried out a retail audit of the store from where the consumer purchased the product and checked products from the same batch available in the store, as well as control samples stored at their own manufacturing site. “No deviation of any kind has been observed in any of the samples checked,” the company stated.

It may be noted that this counters the company’s response to Robin, in which they blamed the retail store for improper storage.

“It was further explained to the consumer that whenever we collect the complaint sample from a consumer, even if there is no manufacturing defect, as part of our complaint handling procedure we provide a like-to-like replacement of chocolates. Despite our representative explaining that it is highly unlikely that the complaint sample suffered from any manufacturing defect, the consumer has refused our offer for taking any replacement and has made a claim of ₹10 lakh,” the company told the FSSAI.

Also Read: Household expenditure has increased over the years. What’s its impact on health?

What’s next?

In light of the State Food Laboratory’s verdict declaring the sample as “unsafe to consume”, Robin emphasises that the next step is for the implicated companies, Cadbury and Ratnadeep, to acknowledge their mistake. “Both Cadbury and Ratnadeep have denied any accountability, which is unacceptable,” Robin said.

In Robin’s view, Cadbury shoulders the primary responsibility for negligence, followed closely by Ratnadeep. He asserts that both entities should be held accountable and said that they should provide an explanation for jeopardising public health.

“It is Cadbury’s responsibility to ensure proper storage of their products and conduct inspections post-sale to ensure retailers adhere to standards. This is a crucial practice, especially for products like chocolates that are widely consumed, particularly by children. The risk associated with this incident poses a significant threat to public safety, especially for children who may consume the chocolate without checking due to the allure of the product. I have also demanded compensation for the incident,” Robin concluded, not disclosing the amount.