Swiss group Barry Callebaut, a world leader in cocoa and chocolate preparations, said on Thursday that it had stopped producing chocolate at its factory in Wieze (Belgium), believed to be the largest in the world, after discovering salmonella.
The presence of the bacteria was discovered on Monday “in a production batch made in Wieze”. “Our quality experts have identified lecithin as the source of the contamination,” the wholesaler said in a statement.
A spokesman told AFP that “most of the contaminated products are still at the Wieze plant” and that the group is in the process of contacting its 73 customers (big industrialists, artisans) to ensure there is “no contamination at the consumer level”. .
Barry Callebaut has “closed all its chocolate production lines in Wieze as a precautionary measure” and informed the Belgian health authorities, the Federal Food Chain Safety Agency (AFSCA).
“All chocolate products manufactured in Wieze after June 25 have been placed on hold,” the statement added, specifying that “all chocolate production lines will be cleaned and disinfected before production resumes.” The factory is about 30 km northwest of Brussels.
The FASFC went to the site and stated that they had launched an investigation to “gather all the information to trace the contamination”.
“Food safety is of paramount importance to Barry Callebaut and this contamination is quite exceptional. We have a charter and well-defined food safety procedures,” the group assures.
Due to the wholesale activity, the products first go to a manufacturer and pass through several stations before they reach the end consumer.
Barry Callebaut’s share price fell 2.85% at midday to 2,112 Swiss francs.
This announcement comes a few weeks after a case of salmonella-contaminated chocolates at the Ferrero factory in Arlon (southern Belgium), which produces children’s chocolates. Belgian health authorities announced on June 17 that they had given the green light to restart the Italian giant’s factory for a three-month test period.
The Swiss group Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate preparations to many companies in the food industry, from industry giants such as Hershey, Mondelez, Nestlé or Unilever to confectionery professionals.
The global number one in the industry, its annual sales in the staggered fiscal year 2020/2021 (ending August 31) were 2.2 million tons.
In the last financial year, the group, headquartered in Zurich, generated a net profit of CHF 384.5 million on sales of CHF 7.2 billion.
The group, which employs more than 13,000 people, has more than 60 production sites worldwide.