A man who claimed he was sold a packet of protein powder containing a dead mouse has made a public apology at the High Court.
Adam Brenton, of Manchester, also agreed to make a payment in respect of costs and damages to The Hut.com Ltd and Cend Ltd.
Their advocate, Mathilde Groppo, told Mr Justice Nicklin in London on Tuesday that Mr Brenton had been a loyal and satisfied customer since 2009, buying Myprotein products on a regular basis.
But, in April 2017, he contacted customer services to report that he had found a mouse carcass inside a packet of Myprotein Impact Diet Whey protein powder, which was manufactured by Cend Ltd and sold by The Hut.com Ltd.
Despite an agreement to collect the items for testing, Mr Brenton tweeted his criticism of The Hut.com's "awful" and "inept" customer service and got in touch with the local press.
An article alleging that, because of the companies' careless or negligent conduct, his health had been put at risk and he was entitled to compensation, was republished in a number of national newspapers and on the internet, said Ms Groppo.
Despite its retraction and withdrawal by most major publishers, the allegations in the article remained searchable online.
CCTV from the date and time of production was reviewed but nothing out of the ordinary was observed, she added.
Mr Brenton confirmed that the bag was opened and unsealed for at least three weeks before the mouse was found.
Tests were carried out on the mouse by Ecolab, leading experts in food safety and hygiene, and endorsed by the University of Liverpool, a world-class centre.
Ms Groppo said: "The evidence is therefore categorical and unequivocal that the mouse which Mr Brenton found in his packet of protein powder could not have entered the product during the production process, and was not present in the product at the time of delivery.
"The suggestion that the complainants were at fault for allowing the mouse to enter the protein powder during the production process, thereby potentially causing harm to Mr Brenton and other customers' health, was false."
She added that Mr Brenton had acknowledged his mistake in writing.
Mr Brenton told the judge: "I agree that there was no possible way the mouse could have entered the powder during the production process.
"I also agree that the customer service provided by The Hut.com Limited in response to my complaint was beyond criticism.
"I withdraw my allegations suggesting otherwise.
"I apologise to the group for my mistakes and agree not to republish any allegations conveying this defamatory meaning or any similar meanings."