The Wonka brand is owned by confectionery giant Ferrero. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) have all issued advice for the public not to buy or eat counterfeit Wonka Bars.
Fake bars may be unsafe to eat, as there is a possibility that they are being produced or repackaged by unregistered businesses and by individuals who could be contravening food hygiene, labelling and traceability laws, the FSA stated.
Concerningly, some counterfeit Wonka Bars removed from sale have been found to contain allergens which weren’t listed on the label. This poses a ‘major health risk’ to anyone who suffers from a food allergy or intolerance, the food safety bodies warned.
FSAI added that the fraudulent products are being sold using false business name and address on the label. Other examples of food safety and authenticity breaches include the rewrapping of various shop bought or homemade chocolate bars in Wonka wrappers and instances of unregistered food businesses selling products online.
A ‘sharp’ increase in counterfeit chocolate
The warning comes after what the FSA described as a ‘sharp increase’ in reports of the counterfeit chocolate bars on sale over the past year.
“With Easter less than a month away, it is more important than ever that parents and grandparents are aware of the risks that these bogus chocolate bars could pose to their children, particularly those living with a food allergy or intolerance,” Tina Potter, Head of Incidents at the Food Standards Agency, said.
“There is no way of knowing what ingredients are in these bars or what food hygiene practices are being followed by the people making or repackaging them.”
The UK food safety agencies said that they are investigating reports with local authority partners who are responsible for investigating and enforcing food law. Letters have been sent advising them to remove fake products from sale.
Retailers have also been advised to remove products from the market if traceability cannot be demonstrated or potential food safety risks are identified, FoodNavigator understands.
In Ireland, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of FSAI, confirmed the organisation is working alongside enforcement agencies in the country to tackle the issue. “The FSAI is working closely with the food inspectors in the Environmental Health Service of the HSE to ensure any counterfeit Wonka branded chocolate bars where there is a known or suspected consumer health risk are removed from sale. Consumers have a right to safe food and counterfeit foodstuffs will be pursued using the legal powers available to us,” Dr Bryne insisted.
How can you spot a fake?
Any Wonka-branded chocolate which does not feature the official ‘Ferrero’ or ‘Ferrara Candy Company’ trademarks on the label is likely to be a counterfeit product and there is no way to know if it is safe to eat, food safety experts advised.
A Ferrero spokesperson told FoodNavigator: “Ferrero owns the Wonka trademarks. The Wonka trademarks, in respect of chocolates and candies, are well recognised and have been used in the UK and the United States, as well as several other countries.
“Ferrero has not authorised any third party to use its Wonka trademarks in the UK or to manufacture products bearing its brands. Therefore, any products which are on the market which do not include reference either to Ferrero or its related company Ferrara Candy Company can be considered to be infringing product and should be withdrawn from the market.”
The spokesperson confirmed the company is working to address the issue. “Ferrero will be taking the necessary actions to protect our consumers, our interests and rights.”