Salmonella bacteria have been discovered at the world’s largest chocolate plant, which is run by Swiss giant Barry Callebaut, in the Belgian city of Viez, the firm said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the company told AFP that production had been halted at the factory, which produces liquid chocolate in bulk batches for 73 confectioners’ customers.
“All products manufactured since the trial have been blocked,” said spokesman Corneil Warlop.
“Barry Callebaut is currently contacting all customers who may have received the contaminated products. Chocolate production in Vieze remains suspended until further notice.”
He added that most of the products found to be contaminated are still on the site.
But the firm has contacted all its customers and asked them not to ship any products made from chocolate to the Wies plant in Flanders, northwest of Brussels, from June 25.
Belgium’s food safety agency AFSCA has been notified and a spokesman told AFP it has opened an investigation.
The Wieze plant doesn’t make chocolates to sell directly to consumers, and the firm has no reason to believe that any contaminated goods made by customers have yet made it onto store shelves.
The fear comes weeks after a case of chocolate contaminated with salmonella at the Ferrero factory that makes Kinder chocolate in southern Belgium.
Belgian health officials announced on June 17 that they had given the green light to restart the Italian giant’s factory for a trial period of three months.
Swiss conglomerate Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to a number of companies in the food industry, including industry giants such as Hershey’s, Mondelez, Nestlé or Unilever.
The world’s number one in the sector, with annual sales of 2.2 million tonnes during the financial year 2020-2021.
In the last fiscal year, the group, which has its head office in Zurich, made a net profit of 384.5 million Swiss francs ($402 million) for 7.2 billion francs in business.
The group employs over 13,000 people, with over 60 production sites around the world.
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