By Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent
Confectionery giant Cadbury is set to be prosecuted under environmental health laws over last year's food scare involving chocolate contaminated with salmonella, the Guardian has learned.
The national health alert, in which dozens of people became ill with food poisoning, led to the Birmingham-based manufacturer being forced to withdraw more than 1m bars of chocolate from retailers and loss of consumer confidence in one of Britain's best-known and most valuable brands. The company has since revealed that the scare cost it £30m.
Sources close to the investigation have revealed that officials are close to finalising the lengthy and complex process of interviewing and evidence-gathering, and hope to announce a prosecution before the end of this month.
The company is expected to face charges of producing food unfit for human consumption. It is also likely to be prosecuted under European laws, accused of failing to tell the authorities in good time about the extent of the problem.