Be Careful When You Bite a Chocolate

BBC reports today that the U.S based confectionery company Mars has ordered to recall their chocolate products in 55 countries after one customer in Germany claimed pieces of plastic he found in a Snickers bar he bought. The plastic was traced back to the Mars factory in the southern town of Veghel in the Netherlands. As a quick face-saving measure, the confectionery giant decided to call back many of its products. Fun-size Mars, Milky Way bars, and Boxes of Celebrations are affected in the UK. In the Netherlands Mars and Snickers bars were also affected.

The American chocolate company Mars, Incorporated was started in 1932 in Slough, Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. The company has 29 chocolate brands including M&M’s, Galaxy, Twix, Bounty, and Maltesers. It also makes Wrigley gum, Uncle Ben’s Rice, Dolmio pasta sauce and Pedigree pet food. Mars is one of the largest privately owned businesses in the US and had global sales of US$33billion last year.

MilkyWay chocolate Mars recalls in EuropeMars chocolates are popular in Japan. It was just two days before we bought a mini packet of MilkyWay brand of Mars chocolate produced at their Australian factory. As per reports, the company recalls chocolates mainly from European countries and not sure at this moment whether Japan is also included in that list. Japan is one of chocolate loving countries.

On Valentine’s day girls and women give chocolates to boys and men in Japan. Valentine’s day in Japan is not limited to lovers. Even children make gift cards to present to their parents and loved ones. Japan had adopted and customized this Western festival to suit to their culture. Presenting chocolates to the loved ones is almost a custom in Japan on Valentine’s day. Chocolate sales shoot up in February compared to other months.

Japan is one of the largest consumers of chocolates. Many Japanese people are a kind of addicted to chocolates such as Nestle Mini Kitkat, Pocky from Glico, Bourbon Alfort Mini Chocolate, Lotte Almond Chocolate, Lotte Ghana Milk Chocolate etc., to mention a few that comes to mind. These chocolates are popular and loved and in most demand in Japan. In every supermarket and convenient shops you can see a wide variety of chocolates, showing the demand for chocolate in Japan.

The sales value of chocolate in 2015 was estimated at around US$3.5 billion in Japan. The growth in chocolate consumption in Japan has been supported by the growing awareness about the health benefits of chocolate. There are some scientific research reports stating that the polyphenol in cacao contains a fine balance of minerals, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, that are effective in reducing the blood pressure, preventing arteriosclerosis, obesity, cancer, and minimizing the level of stress and the effects of allergy and rheumatism. Consumer awareness about the health benefits of chocolate has significantly increased after being promoted by Japanese educational and entertainment television programs.

The recall only involved products manufactured at the Dutch plant. It covers most countries in Europe and does not extend to the US, where Mars is based. Japanese chocolate lovers are watching the steps and damage control measures the company is taking. Japanese consumers are highly quality conscious and they expect maximum value for their spending, even if it is for a chocolate. For sure, they won’t spend to get a plastic bite. Chocolate lovers in Japan too will be careful for a few days while biting chocolate.

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