The extent of the health disaster is now known. A total of 150 cases of salmonellosis have been detected in nine European countries including France, two European surveillance agencies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Tuesday.
The two agencies point the finger at the responsibility of a “Belgian production plant” a few days later the closure of the Kinder site (of the Ferrero group) in Arlon in Belgium. “As of April 8, 2022, 150 confirmed and probable cases of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported”, they note in detail in a press release. They “identified chocolate products manufactured by a company in its Belgian production plant as being at the origin of the outbreak of Salmonella”, they continue, without mentioning the name of the Italian confectionery giant.
Children under ten affected
The infections have “occurred mainly in children under ten years old” and have been reported in nine European countries: France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.
According to European experts, additional investigations will be “necessary to identify the exact source and the precise moment of the contamination”, and to look into “the wider use of contaminated raw materials in other factories”.
An open investigation
Belgian justice has opened an investigation on Monday to establish possible responsibilities within the Arlon factory. On Friday, the Belgian food safety agency (Afsca) withdrew its production authorization, accusing it of its lack of transparency on an incident that occurred in mid-December. At that time, “S. Typhimurium had been detected in a buttermilk tank at the Belgian establishment of the company in question during its own checks”, confirm EFSA and ECDC.
Despite tighter controls and hygiene measures, contaminated chocolate products were distributed in Europe and the United States, leading Ferrero to recognize “internal failures” on Friday. Once the link was established between Kinder products and the cases of salmonellosis at the end of March, following an alert from the British authorities, recalls were launched in several European countries and in the United States.
All products from the Arlon plant are now affected, regardless of batch number or expiration date, Ferrero said.