BELGIUM – Starting next month, Barry Callebaut will recommence production at its Wieze Belgium factory that was recently involved in a Salmonella contamination incident.

According to the company, cleaning of the chocolate lines affected by the Salmonella-positive lecithin is currently in progress. This will see the first cleaned lines restart operation in early August, with a gradual ramp-up to full capacity over the following weeks.

On June 27, Barry Callebaut detected a Salmonella positive on a production lot manufactured in Wieze and lecithin was identified as the source of the contamination.

The chocolate giant later confirmed Salmonella Tennessee as the Salmonella strain behind the Wieze plant closure.

Lecithin is used in all chocolate production lines in Wieze, so the company decided to stop the lines and to block all chocolate products manufactured from June 25 to 29, except for cocoa production which is not linked to the lecithin circuit.

The National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) in Hungary inspected the lecithin supplier, examining the processing methods, documentation, and taking official samples.

The company’s own tests also confirmed the batch of lecithin was contaminated with Salmonella, so it stopped production of the additive, and blocked batches at the plant. Based on initial follow-up investigations, affected items were not shipped to other companies.

The lecithin involved had a Certificate of Analysis and Barry Callebaut is investigating how, despite this, it was contaminated.

According to a Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert, affected countries include Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, reports Food Safety News.

Salmonella in chocolate occurrences

Since the beginning of the year, Barry Callebaut’s is the latest incident of Salmonella in chocolate.

In April Ferrero was shut down after an international outbreak of Salmonella tied to its Kinder chocolate.

Ferrero was recently allowed to restart production at its plant in Arlon, Belgium after a large Salmonella outbreak linked to Kinder chocolate led to it being shut down in April.

The monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to Kinder chocolate has sickened almost 450 people including 122 in the United Kingdom, 118 in France as well as four in Canada and one in the United States.

The FDA allowed Ferrero to resume its operations mid-last month under a probationary basis of satisfactory inspection results.

In May, Strauss Group, the largest food company in Israel, also recalled several Elite branded confectionery products due to Salmonella contamination. The company recalled Elite branded items such as cakes, wafers, energy grain snacks, energy chocolate rice cakes, chewing gum and toffee candies of all dates.

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