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Salmonella found in world’s largest chocolate factory in Belgium, production halted

The largest chocolate factory in the world, operated by the Swiss conglomerate Barry Callebaut in the Belgian town of Wieze, has been found to have Salmonella bacteria, the company said on Thursday.
A business representative told AFP that the factory’s wholesale batch manufacture of liquid chocolate for 73 clients who make confections had been stopped.

‘All products manufactured since the test have been blocked. Barry Callebaut is currently contacting all customers who may have received contaminated products. Chocolate production in Wieze remains suspended until further notice’, spokesman Korneel Warlop said.

According to him, the majority of the infected items are still on the scene. However, the company has contacted all its customers and urged them not to ship any items that they have made using chocolate at the Wieze facility in Flanders, northwest of Brussels, since June 25.

After receiving notification, Belgium’s AFSCA food safety regulator began an inquiry.

The Wieze facility does not produce chocolates for direct consumer sale, and there is currently no basis for the company to suspect that any tainted products produced by clients have gotten onto store shelves. A case of salmonella-contaminated chocolates was discovered a few weeks prior in the Ferrero facility that makes Kinder chocolates in Arlon, southern Belgium.

On June 17, the Belgian health authorities declared that the plant of the Italian behemoth might reopen for a three-month test phase. Many businesses in the food sector, including industry behemoths like Hershey, Mondelez, Nestle, or Unilever, purchase cocoa and chocolate goods from the Swiss company Barry Callebaut.

Its annual sales for the fiscal year 2020–2021 totalled 2.2 million tonnes, making it the industry leader worldwide. The company, which has its headquarters in Zurich, achieved a net profit of 384.5 million Swiss francs ($402 million) for 7.2 billion francs in revenue during the most recent fiscal year. The company has more than 60 production facilities across the world and more than 13,000 employees.


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