Cadbury, once a brand that conjured up comfortable images of tasty confectionery fulfilment, has lost the confidence of consumers following a salmonella scare at one of the company’s plants.

Stephan Shakespeare, the joint chief executive of Brand Index, said, "The loss of confidence in Cadbury is the greatest we have seen since we started Brand Index nine months ago. The issue has gone right into the core of the public consciousness."

Brand Index, which monitors the reputation of hundreds of organisations on a daily basis, compiled a "brand score" for Cadbury based on the responses of those polled to a number of questions about how the company is perceived. In the days before the salmonella scare broke, Cadbury enjoyed a score of 44. But that had fallen to just 22 by last Sunday.

However, the Brand Index figures show that Cadbury’s reputation has enjoyed a slight recovery in the past few days as publicity surrounding the salmonella scare dropped away.

Cadbury has said it will cost 5 million pounds to recall all its potentially contaminated products but has so far failed to quantify the impact on sales of its chocolate products such as Dairy Milk and Flake bars.