Fake Willy Wonka Chocolate Bars Spark Public Health Warning

Health officials in the U.K. warned parents about the spread of counterfeit Willy Wonka chocolate bars just weeks before Easter. The counterfeit bars are being sold in stores throughout the country and are available online, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in a March 28 statement. The bars could be unsafe to eat because they are made by unregistered businesses that do not adhere to packaging standards.

Some counterfeit Wonka Bars have already been removed from stores and were discovered to include allergens not listed on the label. This is a major health risk for anyone allergic to milk and other ingredients that could be used in the candy. The FSA noticed an increase in reports of counterfeit chocolate bars in recent months.

"With Easter less than a month away, it is more important than ever that parents and grandparents are aware of the risks that these bogus chocolate bars could pose to their children, particularly those living with a food allergy or intolerance," FSA Head of Incidents Tina Potter said last month. "There is no way of knowing what ingredients are in these bars or what food hygiene practices are being followed by the people making or repackaging them. If you have bought these knock-off bars, do not eat them or give them to friends and family."

Genuine Wonka-brand chocolate bars should include the official Ferrero or Ferrero Candy Company trademarks on the label. If a Wonka bar does not include the company's logos, it is impossible to know if the chocolate is safe to consume. Any consumer who bought a counterfeit candy bar should contact the retailer and report it to local authorities. The FSA is investigating more reports of counterfeit candy with local support.

The Wonka bar began life in the 1964 Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, later adapted into the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Quaker Oats, which reportedly helped fund the 1971 movie, established a real Willy Wonka Candy Company and planned to release a real Wonka Bar, but it was never widely available. Nestle acquired the brand in 1988. In 2017, Nestle renamed the brand Nestle Candy Shop. In 2018, Nestle sold the brand to Ferrero.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains one of Dahl's most popular novels. In 2005, Tim Burton directed another film adaptation, starring Johnny Depp as Wonka. Warner Bros. is now working on a prequel movie, Wonka, with Timothee Chalamet in the title role. Takia Waittiti is also developing animated projects based on the property for Netflix