Ferrero has asked authorities in Belgium if the factory at the centre of a worldwide recall of Kinder products can re-open.
The Italy-based snacks major has sent a request to Belgium’s food-safety watchdog, AFSCA, for the green light to resume production at the site in Arlon, which has been linked to more than 150 cases of salmonella infection in Europe.
“We continue to work closely with the authorities at a local and European level and can confirm that, as part of this, we have filed a formal request for the reopening of Arlon with AFSCA,” Ferrero told Just Food. The company has indicated the earliest date the plant could open is 13 June.
On 8 April, Belgium’s food safety authority withdrew “authorisation” for the Ferrero plant to operate after “an in-depth investigation” at the site.
The latest published figures by EU health officials put the confirmed number of cases salmonella infection linked to the plant at 158 – with a further 29 deemed “probable”.
The illnesses came to light on 17 February when UK public-health officials reported a cluster of cases with monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium infection.
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Salmonella Typhimurium matching the outbreak strain was detected in a buttermilk tank at the Arlon factory in December as part of Ferrero’s own checks.
The contamination at the facility is the subject of an investigation by the local public prosecutor.
The facility accounts for about 7% of total Kinder volumes annually, the privately-owned company has confirmed.
A spokesperson for AFSCA confirmed the agency and Ferrero had met this week.
“Following yesterday’s meeting between AFSCA and Ferrero, Ferrero submitted an official request for production authorisation. AFSCA has 30 days to respond. The experts of AFSCA will visit the factory in Arlon next week to examine in detail the documents and the measures described in Ferrero’s recovery plan,” the spokesperson said.
“In any case, after the thorough examination of this application for authorisation and in the most favourable scenario, AFSCA will only give a conditional and provisional authorisation for production (and not yet for placing on the market) for three months.”