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Ferrero factory shut down over salmonella outbreak

April 8, 2022

Belgian authorities shut down a Ferrero production site and ordered the company to greatly expand its recent recall of contaminated sweets. Health officials said the company was not forthcoming with investigators.

A police van in front of Ferrero's Arlon production facility
More than 100 cases of salmonella poisoning have been traced back to Ferrero's production facility in Arlon, in southeastern Belgium Image: Eric Lalmand/BELGA/dpa/picture alliance

Authorities in Belgium Friday ordered Italian candy maker Ferrero to close its Arlon production facility over a salmonella outbreak.

"The agency is today withdrawing the authorization of the Ferrero production plant in Arlon. The entire Kinder range of products from Ferrero's Arlon production site is also being recalled," said the Belgian food safety authority AFSCA.

AFSCA officials also said the company had not provided authorities with sufficient information during their investigation into the cause of a salmonella outbreak that has affected more than 100 individuals, many of them children.

Ferrero blamed "internal inefficiencies" for its lack of cooperation, saying they had led to "delays in the timely collection and disclosure of information." The company said, "we deeply regret this situation."

The company went on to apologize to its customers and "thank Belgian health officials for their valuable advice."

Not really a surprise — factory found salmonella nearly four months ago

The company says it discovered salmonella bacteria in material filters at Arlon on December 15, but that it had taken steps to rectify the situation as well as disposing of tainted products.

On Friday, Belgian authorities said that all products from the plant must be recalled regardless of production date.

Products named in Friday's recall include Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise, Maxi and Schoko-Bons. Distributors and retailers have also been instructed to remove all such products from their shelves.

On Tuesday, Ferrero was forced to recall products in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Products have also been recalled in the US and Australia.

AFSCA officials say the plant is tied to an outbreak of more than 100 cases of salmonella poisoning — which causes nausea, vomiting, fever.

Ferrero's Arlon facility is responsible for 7% of annual Kinder sweets production worldwide.

"Such a decision is never taken lightly but the current circumstances make it necessary" said Belgian Agriculture Minister David Clarinval, who praised AFSCA's work, adding, "The food safety of our citizens can never be neglected."

Authorities say the factory will remain closed until the company has fulfilled all food safety requirements. 

js/msh (AFP, dpa)