Ferrero has confirmed the suspension of production lines at its Arlon plant in Belgium will last for about a month following the detection of salmonella in the skirting boards.
Belgium’s food-safety body, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC), and Ferrero both confirmed on 3 July the detection of salmonella at the factory, the same site hit by an outbreak last year.
Ferrero said on 3 July the company had halted the affected production lines, comments that were repeated in a statement issued last Thursday (6 July). The FASFC said previously it had launched an investigation, which is still ongoing and is “being carried out in good cooperation” between Ferrero and the food-safety body, the agency said yesterday (10 July) in an update.
Ferrero has repeatedly stressed no Kinder products have tested positive for salmonella this time around, noting on 3 July that “none have left our facilities”. The company repeated those remarks in Thursday’s statement: “No end product tested positive. Part of the production lines remain suspended in order to carry out the necessary cleaning and sanitation measures.”
In reaction to media reports suggesting the Arlon plant had been closed, a Ferrero spokesperson told Just Food with respect to the production suspension on the affected lines: “We are planning for approximately one month. There is no impact on ongoing employment at the plant.”
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Hundreds of people became sick from the bacteria around the world in 2022 as a result of the consumption of the company’s Kinder chocolate, linked to production at Arlon. The incident triggered a huge global product recall of Kinder products.
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, Ferrero 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”.
The Arlon site eventually gained final approval to fully restart manufacturing last September, around nine months after the initial detection.
Ferrero noted on Thursday: “Every step of the process is being conducted in full and transparent cooperation with the Belgian food-safety authority.”