Ter Beke, the Belgium-based food manufacturer, has temporarily stopped production at one of its Dutch factories to investigate a possible link to a fatal listeria contamination.
The Dutch food safety authority, the NVWA, has said a listeria strain found at the plant in the Dutch town of Aalsmeer was the same strain as that which caused cases of illness, three deaths and a miscarriage.
On Thursday, Offerman, Ter Beke’s Dutch subsidiary, recalled sliced meat products made at the facility.
The company said on Friday (4 October) it would work with Dutch health officials to probe “the nature of the contamination and to take all necessary measures for the future”.
It added: “We also took note of the declarations from the NVWA and the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment that the same listeria strain had been found in cases of illness in the Netherlands, including three deaths and a miscarriage, and in the Offerman location in Aalsmeer. We are currently in contact with the relevant authorities and we fully support further investigations. Offerman takes the necessary actions itself and fully cooperates with the competent authorities.”
Today, the publicly-listed Ter Beke issued another statement. “We understand the media attention surrounding the announcement from the NVWA and the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, indicating that the same listeria strain were found in cases of illness in the Netherlands, including three deaths and a miscarriage, as in the Offerman location in Aalsmeer. As a family, listed company, we are shocked by this announcement. We have no further information on the allegation that this would indicate a causal relationship between the two. Offerman is in contact with the relevant authorities and we cooperate with all further investigations.”
Ter Beke also issued a warning to investors about the impact the recall and the halt to production at the Aalsmeer site would have on its 2019 financial results.
“Based on our initial estimates in this regard, we are forced to downgrade our previous outlook, in particular that the underlying EBITDA result for 2019 would exceed that of 2018,” the company said. “The total impact of the recall and the temporary cessation of activities in Aalsmeer on the underlying EBITDA result of the group for 2019 can amount to approximately 10%.”
Ter Beke’s recurring EBITDA in 2018 was EUR50.2m (US$55.2m), up 36% on EUR36.9m in 2017.