Production has been halted at the world’s largest chocolate factory run by a Swiss company. giant Barry Callebaut in the Belgian city of Wiese after a salmonella infestation was discovered, the firm said on Thursday.
A company spokesman told AFP that production has been halted at a factory that produces liquid chocolate in bulk for 73 confectionery customers.
So far, there have been no reports of chocolate consumers contracting salmonella, which causes salmonellosis, a disease that causes diarrhea and fever but is only dangerous in the most extreme cases.
“All products produced after testing have been blocked,” spokesman Cornil Warlop said.
“Barry Callebaut is currently contacting all customers who may have received contaminated products. Chocolate production at Visa is suspended until further notice.”
According to him, most of the detected contaminated products are still in place.
But the firm has contacted all of its customers and asked them not to ship any products they have made from chocolate produced since June 25 at the Wieze plant, which is located in Flanders, northwest of Brussels.
“Food safety is of the utmost importance to Barry Callebaut and this contamination is exceptional. We have well-defined food safety charters and procedures in place,” the company said.
The Belgian food safety agency AFSCA was informed and a spokesman told AFP that it had launched an investigation.
An AFSCA spokesman said investigators would “gather all the information to trace the contamination.”
The Wieze plant does not produce chocolate for sale directly to consumers, and the firm does not yet have reason to believe that any contaminated products made by customers have yet to hit store shelves.
– Green light –
The panic came weeks after a case of Salmonella contamination of chocolate at the Ferrero factory in Arlon in southern Belgium, which produces Kinder chocolate.
Belgian health authorities said on June 17 that they had given the green light to restart the Italian giant’s plant for a three-month trial period.
The Swiss group Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to many companies in the food industry, including industry giants such as Hershey, Mondelez, Nestle or Unilever.
Number one in the world in this sector, its annual sales amounted to 2.2 million tons during the 2020-2021 financial year.
The Zurich-headquartered group posted CHF 384.5 million ($402 million) in net income for the past financial year on a turnover of CHF 7.2 billion.
The group employs over 13,000 people and has over 60 production sites worldwide.