The Liberal Democrats, the UK's third-largest political party, have said that the Food Standards Agency should back the prosecution of Cadbury for its failure to notify the proper authorities for five months after the company discovered some of its products were contaminated with salmonella.

Cadbury Schweppes informed the Department of Health in June of salmonella contamination that was detected in January.

Liberal Democrat Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Chris Huhne said: "Cadbury Schweppes has fallen well below the high standards expected of a leading food and drink manufacturer. Its failure to notify the FSA is a clear breach of its legal duty under the General Food Regulations 2004.

"This looks like a case of corporate cover-up when what was needed was an honest owning-up.

"Cadbury waited more than five months before notifying the FSA of its problem with salmonella, and also failed to notify the contamination of its products in April 2002. Cadbury should be prosecuted to ensure that all food manufacturers know that safety must come first.

"This is a test case that could determine the seriousness with which food businesses take their safety obligations. If a food giant like Cadbury can get away with sloppy behaviour, the message to everyone else will be appalling. The law must be enforced and the FSA should give the necessary backing to the local authorities involved."

The FSA told just-food that it was down to local authorities to decide whether to prosecute or not, adding that it would support any decision reached.