Ben Cohen, the charismatic co-founder of US ice-cream group Ben & Jerry, is recovering in hospital from an emergency heart bypass. Jerry Greenfield, with whom Cohen founded the ice-cream company in 1978, told the press that routine tests had revealed Cohen needed new coronary arteries. The surgery was performed to prevent Cohen suffering a heart attack.

Speculation has inevitably focused on the probable stress caused to Cohen by last year’s acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever. There have been some high-profile disputes between the founders and Unilever, notably over the group’s tradition of donating part of profits to charitable concerns and maintaining other ethical pledges.