Salmonella has again been detected at Ferrero’s Arlon plant in Belgium, the same site impacted by an outbreak and Kinder product recall last year.

Belgium’s food-safety body, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC), said it had been informed by Ferrero that swab testing had identified the presence of salmonella in the skirting boards at the factory.

The FASFC has launched an “in-depth investigation”, the agency said in a statement provided to Just Food today (3 July). However, it added that “on the basis of the information available to the FASFC, no potentially suspect end product has reached the consumer”, a fact acknowledged by Ferrero itself.

More than 400 worldwide cases of salmonella were confirmed last year linked to the Arlon plant as a result of the consumption of the privately-owned Italian company’s Kinder chocolate, prompting a huge product recall. The site eventually gained final approval to fully restart manufacturing last September, around nine months after the initial detection.

“No final products have tested positive, and, in any case, none have left our facilities,” Ferrero confirmed in its own statement today. “Following the identification of salmonella in the environment by our internal controls, as an immediate preventive measure we have stopped the production lines concerned and are working on the root cause analysis.”

Ferrero added the “AFSCA has been promptly informed,” referring to a unit of the FASFC.

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By GlobalData

In last year’s episode, Ferrero was ordered to suspend operations at Arlon by the food-safety agency on 8 April 2022 after the factory was identified as the source of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium.

The confectionery maker had delayed reporting the salmonella outbreak before initiating a worldwide recall of Kinder products when the first illnesses came to light in the UK on 7 January of that year.

The presence of Salmonella Typhimurium had been detected at the plant on 15 December 2021, the Kinder maker acknowledged the following April, noting the “point of origin was identified to be a filter at the outlet of two raw material tanks” and “materials and finished products were blocked and not released”.

Today, the FASFC said it is taking the latest salmonella case at Arlon “very seriously and has been monitoring it very closely for several days”.

The agency added: “It goes without saying that if the FASFC discovers facts or learns information during this investigation that requires additional measures to guarantee consumer protection, the agency will not hesitate to take them without delay.”