New Jersey Testers Claim Cadbury Sweetener Caused Burns

July 11, 2008

It sounded like a job that would make the Easter Bunny jealous. But three taste testers for candy maker Cadbury PLC say they were seriously injured while sampling something sweet.

The three testers, all women from Morris County, New Jersey this month sued the company’s U.S. subsidiary, Cadbury Adams, claiming that the company hindered treatment by its delay in disclosing the ingredients to a dentist.

The women claim they suffered permanent injuries and assert Cadbury Adams failed to maintain a safe workplace, as required by New Jersey law. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages for medical expenses and suffering.

A Cadbury Adams vice president, Deborah Louison, declined to comment on the lawsuits. Its U.S. base is in Parsippany, and the research center is in nearby East Hanover.

Cadbury PLC is based in England.

Also sued was Spherion Atlantic Enterprises LLC, which hired the women to work at Cadbury Adams for $10 an hour. Spherion spokesman Kip Havel said they have not seen the lawsuit, and added, “We take these allegations very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation of the situation.”

The injuries happened this spring as the women were nearing the end of their training program, said their lawyer, Robyne D. LaGrotta. They first signed a form acknowledging that the product, a sweetener, was experimental, she said.

According to their suits, Maureen Zuccarini, of Parsippany, felt her mouth burning and had injuries to her tongue; Stefanie Bonfiglio, of Whippany, felt burning in her mouth and lower gum, along with a racing heart and swelling lip; Donna Magliaro, of Denville, reported reactions on her lower lip and an irregular heartbeat.

To this day, “The women do not know what was in what they tested,” LaGrotta said Wednesday.

Magliaro was later fired, her lawyer said: “She was told she was asking questions and making others uncomfortable.”

The others quit, the lawyer said. ‘They no longer felt safe doing this, and the company disclosed that they had reactions, which is protected health information, and they were viewed by others as troublemakers,” LaGrotta said.

The research facility employs about 150 people, including contract workers, said Cadbury Adams spokeswoman Katharine Beyer.

“We test and develop new gum and candy for the Americas region and Cadbury globally,” including Dentyne, Trident and Stride gums, Beyer said.

Other Cadbury brands include Cadbury candies, Bubblicious gum, and Halls cough drops.

The women’s lawsuits were filed in state Superior Court for Morris County in Morristown. They were first reported in The Star-Ledger of Newark.


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