the swiss company Barry Callebauta world giant in the cocoa segment and chocolate preparations, announced Thursday that experts detected the presence of salmonella in its factory in Wieze, Belgium, where production was stopped.
“Our experts identified lecithin as the source of the contamination,” the firm said in a statement, after detecting salmonella “in a batch manufactured in Wieze,” a manufacturing unit northeast of Brussels.
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In the statement, the company announced that “all chocolate products manufactured in Wieze after June 25 have been blocked” and that the production lines “will be disinfected before restarting” manufacturing.
“Barry Callebaut is in contact with all customers who may have received contaminated products. Production is suspended until further notice,” the statement said.
A spokesman for the firm, Korneel Warlop, told AFP that “most of the contaminated products are still in the Wieze factory” and a small amount “with our customers.”
The firm was already in contact with 73 clients to guarantee “that there is no contamination of consumers.”
According to the company, 72 of those 73 clients had already confirmed that the batches suspected of contamination were identified and their distribution was suspended, while awaiting confirmation from the last of the receiving clients.
– A giant of the sector –
Warlop said that the Belgian Food Safety Agency (AFSCA) had been informed of what had happened. In turn, the entity confirmed that it was “gathering information to be able to trace the contamination.”
The company’s factory in Wieze, considered the world’s largest of its kind, does not produce chocolates intended for direct marketing to consumers.
The group Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate-based preparations to numerous companies in the food sector, and in particular to major brands in the chocolate sector, such as Hershey, Mondelez or Nestlé.
According to its 2021/2022 balance, its annual sales reached 2.2 million tons in that period.
Its headquarters are in Zurich, Switzerland, although it has some 60 production units around the world, and employs some 13,000 people.
In April, the Belgian Food Safety Agency had already ordered the closure of a factory of another giant brand in the chocolate sector, Kinder (of the Italian group Ferrero), due to an outbreak of salmonella.
The Belgian justice did not authorize until June the reopening -for a trial period- of a Ferrero factory in the town of Arlon (southern Belgium), where the famous salmonella-contaminated Kinder chocolate eggs were produced.
The factory was allowed to reopen for three months, during which each ingredient will be analyzed before the distribution and sale of the chocolates.
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