Salmonella found in ‘world’s largest’ chocolate plant

·2 min read
Products of chocolate and cocoa product maker Barry Callebaut are displayed during  the company's annual news conference in Zurich (REUTERS)
Products of chocolate and cocoa product maker Barry Callebaut are displayed during the company's annual news conference in Zurich (REUTERS)

A huge Belgian chocolate factory has been shut down due to salmonella contamination.

The Barry Callebaut company, which says its plant in Wieze is the largest chocolate factory in the world, shut down all production lines as a precaution this week.

The salmonella was detected in a batch of chocolates on Monday and all chocolate products made at the plant were placed on hold pending an investigation.

The company said it identified lecithin, an emulsifier routinely used in making chocolates, as the source of the contamination.

Barry Callebaut produces chocolate for multiple brands sold around the world, as well as its own cooking chocolate products to be used in baking.

It said in a statement: “Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian food authorities (FAVV) about the incident and has taken the precautionary measure to stop all chocolate production lines and to block all products manufactured since the time of testing.

“We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received impacted products. The chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.”

The company also asked customers to block any shipped products, adding it is taking time to “continue with the very diligent root cause analysis – keeping the FAVV informed in the process”.

“When that is completed, the lines will be cleaned and disinfected before resuming the production process,” it added.

It is unclear if any customers have reported becoming sick because of the chocolates.

The contamination at Barry Callebaut’s plant comes nearly three months after a factory owned by Ferrero that produces Kinder chocolate products was shut down over links to dozens of salmonella cases.

In April, multiple Kinder products were recalled after the chocolates were linked to cases in the UK, Germany, France and Belgium.

In the UK, the outbreak was linked to Kinder Surprise eggs and infected more than 60 people, mostly young children.