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Cadbury removes treasure hunt website that encouraged 'looting' after backlash

Cadbury Freddo chocolate bars
Gareth Fuller, PA Images | Getty Images

Chocolate-maker Cadbury has taken down a website that encouraged people to hunt for treasure in the U.K, after it faced a heavy backlash on social media.

The site, part of a promotion for its Freddo Treasures chocolates featured images of U.K. heritage sites and encouraged people to go treasure hunting for gold and jewelry. One part of the site stated: "Unearth the fortunes of Rome in Somerset … Grab your metal detector and go hunting for Roman riches!"

It also stated: "Go on a real treasure hunting adventure. There's plenty of real treasure out there still to be discovered. So, what are you waiting for? Explore the U.K.'s top treasure hotspots and see the riches already discovered on display at national sites."

But experts were not impressed, calling it "ill-advised" and "irresponsible." Archaeologist Ian Trumble tweeted: "The #cadburytreasurehunt by @CadburyUK actively promotes the gleeful destruction of archaeological sites and undermines years of public heritage education."

Dr Kristina Killgrove, a bioarchaeologist, tweeted: "TFW (that feeling when) it's 2019 and a chocolate company thinks it's a good idea to promote their brand by encouraging illegal excavation and looting. What in the world was @CadburyUK thinking?!?"

The Mondelez-owned company said it had taken the website down and was updating its content. Within packs of Cadbury's Little Treasures products there is a QR code that links to a website that recommends historical sites and museums that families can visit, a Mondelez International spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Tuesday.

"It was not our intention to encourage anyone to break existing regulations regarding the discovery of new archaeological artefacts and we are grateful this matter has been brought to our attention. We can now confirm that the webpage has been taken down and we are updating the content to focus solely on directing families to museums where existing treasures can be found," the statement added.