According to a statement issued by the group, the salmonella was found in a sieve at the exit of two raw material tanks at the Arlon site in Belgium in mid-December. Ferrero said the filter has been replaced and controls for work in progress and finished products have been increased.
Then the products made from it were discontinued. According to the Belgian daily De Tijd, products that were manufactured within the past five days have been destroyed. The Belgian nutrition agency FASNK was not notified because, according to the company, this was not necessary.
“We are still investigating whether Ferrero should have warned us,” FASNK spokeswoman Helen Ponty said. “I can’t help but feel that this has not been handled properly,” said Eva de Bleecker, Belgium’s minister of state for consumer protection.
The regulator revokes the factory license
The supervisory authority AFSCA announced on Friday that it will revoke the production license for the Arlon plant as a result of the investigation. According to the statement, Ferrero did not provide enough information in the investigation. All products must be recalled from the factory, regardless of their production date.
According to the ad, this includes all Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi and Choco Bones manufactured in Arlon. The AFSCA has also asked all distributors to withdraw affected products from retail outlets. The Arlon factory may only reopen after all food safety rules and requirements have been met.
Shortly thereafter, Ferrero himself announced that he would cease operations at the plant. The company acknowledged that “there are internal deficiencies that have led to delays in obtaining and sharing information in a timely manner.” This had an impact “on the speed and effectiveness of the investigations”. The factory will be reopened after approval by the authorities.
The first cases in Great Britain
The British Food Authority sounded the alarm for the first time at the start of the week: In Great Britain, young children in particular were suffering from salmonella infection, the Palestinian News Agency reported on Monday. Shortly thereafter, Ferrero recalled some batches of Kinder Surprise Eggs. The Food Safety Agency said the recall “has a possible link to the salmonella outbreak.”
Also in France, Ferrero recalled products at the start of the week after 21 cases of infection, according to Paris health authorities. According to them, it is genetically the same salmonella that is responsible for the outbreak of salmonella disease in Great Britain and Ireland. All affected baby chocolate products are manufactured in the said factory in Arlon.
Products produced in December are affected only
Working with food and health authorities in Europe, the company said Ferrero had received new data showing a match between salmonella cases reported in Europe and its own factory in Arlon.
“All the products we remember this week were made in December,” Ferrero spokeswoman Lawrence Evard said. Since the problem was discovered, the number of tests has increased. More is not found. It seems, then, that Ferrero should have recalled and spoiled more products in December — less than it produced just five days ago. “We’ll investigate,” Everr said.
Since the cases became known, Ferrero has had to put more and more products on the recall list, most recently some Christmas items. Baby products have also been recalled in the USA. In Europe, the European Union Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Union Health Authority (ECDC) have started investigations. According to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), no case has appeared in Austria so far.
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