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Body Shop slips on puddle of Peach

DOUBTS about Body Shop's commitment to the environment sent its shares sliding 6p yesterday to 236p - the apparent result of revelations that the company was responsible for the spillage of 30 gallons of Fuzzy Peach shower gel down a drain in New Jersey in 1992.

Concern arose after reports that an ethical investment fund in Boston had recommended selling Body Shop and had dumped 50,000 of the shares, based largely on concerns about 'forthcoming US press criticism' of 'emissions from its former New Jersey factory'.

But it turns out that the 'spill' was one involving the kind of stuff that goes down bathtub drains every morning, the 'factory' was a bottle-filling operation in a bucolic part of notoriously toxic northern New Jersey, and the 'draft article' in question an attempted expose that had been rejected by several US television programmes and magazines.

Moreover, the sell note was issued five weeks ago by the fund, Franklin Research and Development.

'We are not talking about the Exxon Valdez here,' a company spokesman said. He also admitted to a second accidental discharge - 30 gallons of Orange Spice shampoo - during the same year from the Body Shop operation in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey.

The company duly informed local environmental authorities about the spills - which involved finished, decidedly non- toxic, products rather than concentrated chemicals. The only non-natural ingredients would have been harmless preservatives.

'We'd give Body Shop a routine call any time the Musconetcong River sudsed up,' a spokesman for the state authorities said.

'We can only imagine that Cedar Knolls had the sweetest-smelling sewers in New Jersey that day,' a Body Shop spokeswoman, Angela Bawtree, said.

(Photograph omitted)