Kinder chocolate recall hits U.S. as Belgian officials close plant linked to outbreak

Kinder chocolate recall hits U.S. as Belgian officials close plant linked to outbreak

by Sue Jones
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Ferrero USA has recalled two Kinder brand chocolate products in the United States. Almost 150 children in Europe and the United Kingdom have been infected with Salmonella that has been found in the production plant

Kinder Happy Moments Chocolate Assortment was distributed in BJ’s Wholesale Club stores and Costco outlets in the Bay Area and Northern Nevada; and Kinder Mix Chocolate Treats basket were sold in 14 Big Y supermarkets in Connecticut and Massachusetts with best before dates in July 2022.

These and other Kinder products were manufactured in Arlon, Belgium, and sent to more than 60 countries. Ferrero revealed a genetic match between almost 150 Salmonella cases in Europe and this factory in Belgium. The majority of those sick are children.

Salmonella found in December
Internal analysis by the company detected Salmonella at the plant in mid-December. After an investigation, the origin of contamination was identified to be a filter at the outlet of two raw material tanks. These materials and finished products were blocked and not released, according to the company.

The filter was removed and controls on semi-finished and finished products were increased. Investigations are ongoing to determine how contaminated product still made it to the market.

Eight countries have reported 119 confirmed and 28 probable monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to the chocolate products.

The United Kingdom is the most affected country with 65 patients. There are 25 confirmed cases in France, 15 in Ireland, six in Germany, four in Sweden, two in the Netherlands and one each in Luxembourg and Norway. Belgium is investigating 26 probable cases and Germany has two.

Plant told to halt operations
Belgian authorities have now withdrawn approval for the production site in Arlon and Ferrero is recalling Kinder products made there. All Kinder Surprise, Kinder Surprise Maxi, Kinder Mini Eggs and Schokobons, regardless of batch or expiry date are affected. The Arlon plant makes up about 7 percent of the total Kinder products manufactured globally on a yearly basis.

The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) said the decision to suspend operations was made based on findings from an investigation, which is continuing, and because information provided by Ferrero was “incomplete.”

FASFC, also known as AFSCA and FAVV, said it would monitor the steps taken by Ferrero and only authorize reopening of the site when it is clear that all food safety rules and requirements have been met.

Ferrero acknowledged there were “internal inefficiencies,” creating delays in getting and sharing information in a timely manner.

“This impacted the speed and effectiveness of the investigations. This is the only and right decision to take to ensure the maximum level of food safety and eliminate the risk of further contamination,” according to a company statement.

“We deeply regret this matter. We want to sincerely apologize to all our consumers and business partners and thank the food safety authorities for their valuable guidance. Food safety, quality and consumer care have been at the heart of Ferrero since the company was founded. This serious event goes to the core of what we stand for and we will take every step necessary to preserve the full trust and confidence of our consumers.”

Global recall
Ferrero Canada has also recalled certain Kinder branded chocolate sold nationally because of possible Salmonella contamination. There have been no illnesses associated with the products.

Distribution of the products includes more than 60 countries ranging from most of Europe, to Argentina, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mexico.

This widescale export means the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), managed by the FAO of the United Nations and WHO, is also part of the incident.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will publish an outbreak assessment next week.

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