Salmonella shuts down production in the world’s largest chocolate factory | Food and Beverage Industry

Production has been halted at the world’s largest chocolate factory run by Swiss group Barry Callebaut in Wieze, Belgium, after salmonella infections were found.

A company spokesman said production had been halted at the factory, which produces liquid chocolate in wholesale batches for 73 confectionery customers.

The company said 72 of the 73 companies had confirmed they had stopped deliveries of potentially contaminated chocolate in time to prevent them from reaching the stores, and were waiting for a response from one customer.

There have been no reports to date that chocolate consumers have been exposed to salmonella, which causes salmonellosis, an illness that causes diarrhea and fever but is only dangerous in the most extreme cases.

“All products manufactured since the test have been blocked,” the spokesperson said. “Barry Callebaut is currently contacting all customers who may have received contaminated products. Chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.”

Most of the products found to be contaminated were still on the site, he said.

However, the company has contacted all of its customers, asking them not to ship any products they have made with chocolate made since June 25 at the Wieze factory, in Flanders, northwest of Brussels.

“Food safety is of the utmost importance to Barry Callebaut and this contamination is quite exceptional. We have a well-defined food safety charter and procedures,” the company said.

The Belgian food safety agency has been informed and a spokesperson said it had opened an investigation.

Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to many companies in the food industry, including industrial giants such as Hershey, Mondelēz, Nestlé or Unilever. The world’s number one in the industry, annual sales reached 2.2 million tons during fiscal year 2020-21.

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The Wieze factory does not make chocolates that are sold directly to consumers, and the company has no reason to believe that contaminated goods made by customers have made it onto store shelves.

The shock comes a few weeks after a case in which chocolates were contaminated with salmonella at the Ferrero factory that makes Kinder chocolates in Arlon in southern Belgium.

Belgian health authorities said on June 17 they had given the green light to restart the Ferrero plant for a three-month test period.

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