The sale of US chocolate maker Hershey Foods has been halted by a Pennsylvania court judge who has asked for the auction process to be delayed until after another court hearing.

According to newspaper reports this morning Judge Warren Morgan told both sides in the on-going dispute that he would adjourn the case until this Friday.

The hearing, requested by Mike Fisher, the Pennsylvania attorney-general, is the latest move in a saga to engulf the Milton Hershey Trust, which holds a 77% stake in the sweets group.