“Children’s” surprise eggs and “Children’s” chocolate bons: Salmonella cases: Belgian authorities withdraw Ferrero’s license for a plant for the time being
Frankfurt Due to salmonella cases in several countries, confectionery manufacturer Ferrero has had to stop production at a factory in Belgium for the time being. The supervisory authority Afsca announced on Friday that it would revoke the production license for the Arlon plant. All products from the factory must therefore be recalled.
As early as December, the confectionery giant became aware of a salmonella case in Arlon, which has been the focus of the food authorities for a few days, according to a statement by Ferrero France in Luxembourg on Friday.
According to the announcement, on December 15, Salmonella was found in a strainer at the outlet of two raw material tanks at the Arlon site. The products made from it were then held back. The filter has been replaced and controls on unfinished and finished products have been increased, Ferrero said.
The announcement did not explain why Ferrero did not recall the products already in circulation at the time. In the past few days, the company has recalled products from its “Kids” line of confectionery in a number of countries, including the United States, according to a company announcement released by the US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday (local time).
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The German market was also affected by the recalls of the past few days, including selected batches of “Kinder” surprise eggs and “Kinder” chocolate bons as well as some Easter items.
These are just precautionary measures, as the company has emphasized several times. Although none of the “kids” products tested positive for salmonella, Ferrero takes the matter very seriously, “because consumer protection is our top priority.” But the mere suspicion of a salmonella infection could leave traces on the supermarket shelves – especially since the Easter business is considered lucrative for confectionery manufacturers.
However, the consumer organization Foodwatch has sharply criticized the company. “If such a mistake happens, the population must be warned immediately,” said Andreas Winkler from Foodwatch on Friday. In his opinion, personal responsibility and self-monitoring by the manufacturers are not sufficient, “transparency obligations for authorities are necessary so that cases like Ferrero must be made public immediately.”
Salmonella diseases in Great Britain and France
But what was the trigger for the many recalls of the past few days? At the beginning of the week, cases of salmonella were first reported in Great Britain and France. In the UK, it was mainly young children who contracted salmonella, the PA news agency reported on Monday.
Shortly thereafter, Ferrero recalled some batches of Kinder Surprise Eggs. The food safety agency said the recall had “a possible link to a salmonella outbreak.”
In France, too, Ferrero recalled products at the beginning of the week after 21 cases of infection, according to the health authorities in Paris. According to them, it is genetically the same salmonella that is responsible for an outbreak of salmonella disease in Great Britain and Ireland. The affected “children’s” chocolate products are all manufactured in the said factory in Arlon, Belgium.
By working with food and health authorities in Europe, Ferrero has received new data showing a match between the salmonella cases reported in Europe and its own plant in Arlon, the company said.
Recall extended to children’s Christmas items
On Thursday, Ferrero also extended its product recall in Germany to some Christmas items. These include special surprise eggs and advent calendars, each with a best-before date of April 20, 2022, as can be seen from an overview published on Thursday on the Lebensmittelarning.de portal.
Only Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein are affected by the extension of the recall, according to the portal operated by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety and the federal states.
In Europe, the EU food safety authority EFSA and the EU health authority ECDC started investigations. The two authorities had spoken of 105 confirmed salmonella cases and 29 suspected cases on Wednesday, most of them in children under the age of ten. Certain chocolate products have been identified as a likely route of infection.
“A salmonella disease manifests itself within a few days after infection with diarrhea and abdominal pain, sometimes with vomiting and a slight fever,” says the consumer advice center. In healthy people, the symptoms usually subside after a few days.
In certain cases, however, serious illnesses can occur, especially in infants, small children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system.
More: Chocolate under suspicion: EU investigates salmonella cases across Europe