Twistees producer silent on 34,250-packet discrepancy

The director of Darrell Lea Foods, which makes Twistees, has refused to clarify details on a recall affecting 34,000 potentially contaminated packets of the popular snack.

Steve Calleja said that some of the information given by the Environmental Health Directorate, including that there were still 34,250 packets of possibly contaminated Twistees unaccounted for, was “inaccurate”.

However, when asked to point out the “inaccuracies”, he refused citing the need to consult his lawyer. This has been the company’s position since Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Health Directorate issued a statement warning people not to consume Twistees batch BFF HD with an expiry date of October 16, as traces of plastic had been found in a packet from that lot after a plastic bucket fell into the oven in May. The plastic became fused to some Twistees in that batch.

Speaking to The Times after the health authority warning, Mr Calleja had claimed that only 1,050 packets had reached the market, and that only 250 packets were unaccounted for.

The health authorities, however, said that according to information given by the company, 731 boxes of 48 packets had been sold, amounting to 35,088 packets of 50 grams. After only 838 packets were recalled, this left a discrepancy of 34,250 packets.

Asked to clarify, Mr Calleja insisted he would not give any comments before speaking to his lawyer.

When contacted yesterday, director of Environmental Health John Attard Kingswell said he had not yet received a reply from the company on its statement.

He said that to date, no decision had been taken on whether to pursue legal action against the company. But consumers are demanding action. Speaking to this newspaper, Consumers Association president Benny Borg Bonello said “we hope that the authorities will not succumb to pressure to turn a blind eye to this incident”.

“Basing our arguments on the reports published, it seems that the management is gravely mishandling the situation. We consider it is very worrying if it is true that the firm is misleading both the authorities concerned and the public regarding the number of packets still at large,” Mr Borg Bonello said.

“Such accidents happen to all firms, even those most established internationally. What becomes an issue is when such firms do not own up and try to settle the problem in an efficient way in order to settle the problem once and for all.” He also said he was worried by some comments online criticising the authorities for warning people not to consume that particular batch.

“The argument that this is a good product and therefore we should turn a blind eye to this incident does not make sense as this would be a signal to all firms that anything, even inferior or defective products, are acceptable to consumers,” Mr Borg Bonello said.

published in the Times of Malta of the 30th July 2011