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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 08:21 GMT
Nuclear chocolate scare revealed
Image of chocolate
It was feared the chocolate had been contaminated
Tonnes of chocolate were destroyed almost 50 years ago amid fears it could have been contaminated in a nuclear accident in Cumbria, it has emerged.

Rowntree thought a consignment of its chocolate crumb had been affected by a fire at a reactor at the Windscale plant, now Sellafield, in 1957.

Milk from 200 miles around was banned for four days after it was contaminated with iodine 131, a short-lived isotope.

The incident was revealed in response to a parliamentary question.

A record in the files of the UK atomic energy authority has shown Rowntree was also concerned about the safety of produce from its factory in nearby Egremont.

Energy Minister Mike O'Brien said Rowntree wanted compensation from the government for 90 tonnes of chocolate made in the days following the fire.

It was refused after authorities insisted that the crumb was "completely safe for consumption" because of the short half-life of the contaminating isotope.

After months of negotiations, Rowntree accepted the verdict but insisted it wanted the chocolate destroyed "in the interest of customer relations and commercial prudence".

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