A new food contamination has been identified.

It now affects the Swiss group Barry Callebaut, world number one in cocoa and chocolate preparations.

The firm said on Thursday that it had stopped production of chocolate at its factory in Wieze (Belgium), presented as the largest in the world, after the discovery of salmonella.

The presence of the bacterium was discovered on Monday “in a production batch manufactured in Wieze”.

"Our quality experts have identified lecithin as the source of the contamination," the wholesaler said in a statement.

A spokesperson specified that "most of the contaminated products are still in the Wieze factory" and that the group was in the process of contacting its 73 customers (large industrialists, craftsmen) to ensure that it did not there is “no contamination at the consumer level”.

Contamination tracing

Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian health authorities, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (AFSCA) and “closed all its chocolate production lines in Wieze, as a precautionary measure”.

“All chocolate products produced in Wieze after June 25 have been blocked,” the statement added, specifying that “all chocolate production lines will be cleaned and disinfected before production restarts.”

The factory is located about 30 km north-west of Brussels.

The FASFC went to the site and indicated that it had opened an investigation to "gather all the information in order to trace the contamination".

The Ferrero factory precedent

“Food safety is of the utmost importance to Barry Callebaut and this contamination is quite exceptional.

We have a well-defined food safety charter and procedures,” assures the group.

This announcement comes a few weeks after a case of chocolates contaminated with salmonella in the Ferrero factory in Arlon (south of Belgium) manufacturing Kinder 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, ranging from industry giants such as Hershey, Mondelez, Nestlé or Unilever to pastry professionals.

World number one

World number one in the sector, its annual sales amounted to 2.2 million tonnes during its staggered 2020/2021 financial year (ended August 31).

Over the past financial year, the group, whose head office is in Zurich, had generated a net profit of 384.5 million Swiss francs for 7.2 billion francs in turnover.

The group, which employs more than 13,000 people, has more than 60 production sites worldwide.

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