Kinder Eggs manufactor Ferrero in Belgium is hit again by bacteria. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Belgian Ferrero chocolate factory suffers second salmonella outbreak


Luxury Italian chocolate manufacturer Ferrero has stopped making its products at its Belgian facility in Arlon after salmonella bacteria was discovered there at the end of June.

That came just over a year after the same factory was forced to stop production for the same reason.

Salmonella poisoning can cause fever, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and vomiting. Babies, young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are susceptible to potentially more serious complications.

In the latest outbreak, Ferrero said it had to partially halt output following the discovery of salmonella in the plant’s “walls and skirting boards”.

Speaking to media outlet AFP, Laurence Evrard, a spokesperson for the Benelux region of the Italian chocolate giant, said a “clean-up” of production lines was planned “for the next two weeks”.

“But the factory is not closed [completely],” Evrard added and said its employees’ salaries are “100 per cent covered”. The site in Arlon employs 725 people.

Another Ferrero spokesperson said there was “technical maintenance” underway, which is why “all production” has been temporarily suspended.

In a press release on its website on July 6, the company highlighted that no products tested positive for bacterial contamination and that each step of the production process of “enhanced controls” is carried out with full and transparent cooperation with the Belgian Food Safety Authority (FASFC).

In April 2022, the same factory was forced to halt output and recall all products manufactured on-site after the report of hundreds of cases of salmonellosis possibly linked to the consumption of its chocolate products in various European countries.

It only received definitive approval for a production restart by the Belgian authorities in September 2022. The Italian giant had to undergo extensive cleaning operations, invest in new pipelines and conduct hundreds of quality tests in order to resume activities.

Belgian authorities were critical of Ferrero at the time, saying that the Italian company provided “incomplete information” regarding its processes.

The firm is suspected of having delayed responding to a problem identified as early as December 2021 and has been the target of legal investigations in Belgium and France. Since then, Ferrero has had numerous external audits carried out designed to better enforce safety control processes.

Under current procedures, if these controls do not meet required standards, the FASFC is informed and the relevant production lines are stopped until such issues are resolved.

Ferrero, which also produces the Kinder and Nutella brands, sought to reassure consumers over the latest outbreak, saying: “No finished product has tested positive, and none has left our facilities.”