On September 16, 2022, Belgium’s food safety authority (AFSCA) issued a final authorization for production for Ferraro’s manufacturing facility, located at Arlon.
The Arlon plant produces Kinder Surprise and other novelty chocolate products, and has been operating under a conditional authorization since June.
On April 2, 2022, the UK Food Standards Agency alerted consumers to potential Salmonella contamination in certain batches of Kinder Surprise chocolates.
On April 8th, Belgium announced its decision to withdraw Ferrero’s authorization to manufacture food products at its Arlon plant, where the Kinder Surprise chocolates were made.
The decision, according to AFSCA, was due to the presence of Salmonella in the plant’s environment, the agency’s dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency on the part of the company regarding its Salmonella problem, and reports of Salmonella illnesses associated with the products from that plant.
In response to the AFSCA action, Ferrero expanded its initial recall to encompass all products manufactured in the Arlon facility. In doing so, the company also acknowledged that it had been aware of a Salmonella contamination problem in its production plant since December 15, 2021.
According to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), as of July 15th, 401 confirmed (n=399) and probable (n=2) cases of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium had been reported in 13 EU member countries and the UK. An additional 54 cases were reported in Canada (n=4), Switzerland (n=49), and United States (n=1).
Specific chocolate products from a Belgian chocolate factory were identified as likely vehicles of infection in the ECDC report, although the agency did not mention the company by name.
A new beginning
Following extensive cleaning, testing, and updates to product safety protocols, trainings, and sampling in the plant, conducted by Ferrero in concert with the AFSCA, the Belgian agency granted Ferrero conditional authorisation to restart its production lines on June 17, 2022.
After three months of probationary production, the authorization has now been finalized.
In announcing the authorization, Ferrero expressed its gratitude with AFSCA’s close collaboration and its assistance, and promised to do better going forward.
“We have learned a lot during this period and have quickly put these learnings into practice,” the company said in its news release. “The granting of our production licence means everything is in place for our factory to produce with confidence and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.”
You can find additional background information on a prior Salmonella outbreak associated with chocolate novelty products in Chapter 15 of TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures. Available in digital, print, and audiobook editions.