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Twistees producers may face legal action over 34,000 missing packets

The Twistees factory in Marsa is under scrutiny because of a batch of the popular snack may have been contaminated by a plastic bucket that fell into an oven where the Twistees were being baked. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Twistees factory in Marsa is under scrutiny because of a batch of the popular snack may have been contaminated by a plastic bucket that fell into an oven where the Twistees were being baked. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The producers of Twistees may face legal action by the Environmental Health Directorate over the case of a product recall, the directorate warned yesterday.

The case concerns 34,350 unaccounted for packets of Twistees that were potentially contaminated by a plastic bucket that fell into an oven during baking, according to the department.

On Tuesday, the EHD issued a statement warning people not to eat from a batch of Twistees expiring on October 16, 2011, with lot number BFF HD, as consumers had found Twistees with plastic melded into them.

Darrell Lea Foods Ltd director Steve Calleja had explained that this in May, when a bucket fell into the oven. The company had noticed an hour later, although some packets had already been distributed. But most of the packets, he claimed, did not leave the factory.

He said only some 250 of the remaining packets were still out, probably in possession of customers, after the company recalled all others from the shops by last Monday.

However, the department said yesterday that when it inspected the factory on July 20 after a complaint was made by a consumer, it found out that only two packets from the batch were left, one of which was at the factory and the other in the possession of the department.

It said that according to data provided by Darrell Lea Foods, 731 boxes of 48 packets each had been produced in that batch – a total of 35,088 packets – “and these were sold locally”.

After “838 packets only” were withdrawn from the market by the company, on Tuesday the department informed Darrell Lea Foods that it would be issuing a press release to customers “since this indicated most of the product was sold”.

This meant, the department said, that 34,350 packets were still unaccounted for.

Mr Calleja also said the company had discovered the product was still on the market upon a consumer complaint in July, after which they informed the health authorities. But the department said “the directorate was never informed by the company” – the company was contacted “after the complaint was lodged with the directorate”.

Contacted for a reaction yesterday, Mr Calleja said he would not comment before he spoke to his lawyers.

Marija Attard Raute, 27, was the one who raised the alarm and complained to the Twistees producer after she found a piece of plastic inside a pack.

When she contacted the company, a representative was sent to her house and offered her a box of Twistees in return for the bag but she refused. She was then offered five boxes, which she also refused.

“They told us to give them the packet and they would take care of the rest and contact the health department themselves but we wanted to make sure there would be testing, and we didn’t trust them,” Ms Attard Raute said.

“At one point we said we would contact the consumer department and the representative said that we were threatening her and that she would get the police because we were defaming her,” the young mother said.

She eventually contacted the Health Department on July 19 and took an affidavit on July 21.

“Thank God we contacted the department,” she said, questioning whether the matter would have been made public otherwise. “What angers me is that they said they were going to call the police. Who knows how many times this happens, with people who are a bit afraid to speak, and this shouldn’t be. What also angers me is that they said they reported it to the EHD, when it wasn’t the case,” Ms Attard Raute said.

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