Chocolate Industry

Belgium suspends production of Kinder chocolate at Ferrero factory due to food recalls across Europe

Belgian authorities have halted production of Kinder chocolate at a factory in the south of the country, saying parent company Ferrero provided it with “incomplete information” about a recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning in Europe.

The Belgian food safety agency on Friday withdrew its authorization to the Ferrero factory in Arlon and ordered the recall of all products from the site.

“With immediate effect, all production of Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi 100g and Kinder Schokobons made in Arlon is recalled,” Ferrero said in a statement.

The Italian company had already recalled some of its Kinder chocolate products ahead of Easter after they were linked to salmonella infections in a number of European countries.

At least 142 cases in nine countries

It all started with a case of salmonella identified in the UK in January. Today, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) claim that as of April 8, at least 142 cases have been reported, mainly among children, in at least nine countries.

Kinder is just one of the companies hit by recalls in recent days due to food poisoning outbreaks across Europe. Consumer protection groups say the health alerts highlight a weak safety screening system across the industry that needs overhauling.

Buitoni, owned by Nestlé, has recalled its entire range of Fraîch’Up frozen pizzas, and Lactalis has recalled tens of thousands of its cheeses, after the products were suspected of carrying E. coli and listeria bacteria respectively.

Here’s the latest information on which food products have been recalled and where.

Kinder Chocolates

Belgium has ordered the production of the Kinder factory in Arlon to stop and all Kinder products that were manufactured there are now recalled.

The Belgian Food Safety Agency FASFC said in a statement: “After investigations (…) and following the findings of the last few hours that the information provided by Ferrero is incomplete, the Agency today withdraws the authorization of Ferrero’s production plant in Arlon”.

Ferrero apologized to consumers in a statementacknowledging “that there were internal inefficiencies, creating delays in retrieving and sharing information in a timely manner”.

“We will take all necessary measures to preserve the full confidence of our consumers,” the company said.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) originally issued a product recall warning on April 2 for a number of Kinder products, manufactured at Ferrero’s factory in Arlon.

He updated that recall with more product on April 6, and April 8 againby extending it to all Kinder products made in Arlon regardless of their expiry date.

These include Kinder Surprise and Kinder Mini eggs, which were recalled after investigations by UK health authorities linked cases of salmonella poisoning to these products. At least 65 cases have been confirmed so far.

the Food Safety Authority of Ireland also recalled the products, saying there have been 15 cases in the country with the same strain of salmonella found in the UK.

Twenty-one cases of the same strain have so far been reported in France, including eight hospitalized. French health authorities have said the median age of cases was 4 years.

Additionally, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark have all recalled some Kinder chocolate products and warned consumers to return or throw them away after a number of people fell ill with cases. of salmonella.

Ferrero now also has voluntarily recalled some of its Kinder chocolates from US shelves as a precaution.

Lactalis cheeses

A recall campaign has also been launched for a number of cheeses produced by Lactalis in France due to a risk of listeriosis – a potentially serious infection caused by the bacterium Listeria.

Initially, two types of Graindorge brand raw milk cheeses were recalled, but on Friday April 8, this recall was extended to other brands linked to a “probable source of contamination” at a partner farm that produces raw milk .

From now on, Lactalis’ Fromageries de Normandie range has recalled some 24,000 cheeses, “all raw milk cheeses made with the milk of the producer concerned”, according to the company.

These are bries, coulommiers, camembert and small camemberts from the Normanville, Bon Normand, Pâquerettes, Graindorge, Traditions de Normandie and Nous anti-gaspi brands. The recall initially only concerned Coulommiers and Bries 1kg, the two Normanville and Graindorge brands.

The cheeses in question have been sold in supermarkets across France since mid-March.

Buitoni frozen pizzas

Nestlé-owned manufacturer Buitoni also ordered a massive recall of frozen pizzas after serious cases of E. coli infections in children. The recall concerns its Fraich’Up frozen pizzas.

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the outbreak after dozens of cases of people falling ill were linked to pizzas. She will look at “manslaughter”, “deception” and “endangering others”.

Two children have died, although the pizza connection has not been confirmed in either case.

The products have been recalled in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, but they have also been distributed in Switzerland, Andorra, Saint-Martin and Slovenia in Europe, as well as in 15 African countries.

The pizzas in the Fraich’Up range are all made at the Buitoni factory in Caudry (Nord), the production of which has been banned by the prefecture following two hygiene checks.

Nestlé, the owner of Buitoni, launched a massive recall of the affected products on March 18.

Since then, analyzes have confirmed “a link between several cases and the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Fraîch’Up range of the Buitoni brand contaminated with the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli)”, according to a press release published at the end of March. by the French Directorate General for Health.

What does this say about food security in Europe?

Foodwatch, an NGO that advocates for food safety, said the product recalls underscore “a broken consumer protection system that urgently needs reform”.

Ingrid Kragl, the founder of Foodwatch in France, said the cases show “manufacturers cannot be trusted” with a system that relies heavily on self-monitoring.

Camille Perrin, head of food policy at European consumer protection group BEUC, said the problem is not EU regulations, but a lack of enforcement by member states.

European food safety regulations are “among the strictest in the world”, Perrin told Euronews Next.

“What we are seeing is that the budget for checks in the majority of European countries has decreased.”

BEUC had already sounded the alarm in 2019 in the face of the drop in food safety controls by Member States.

According to Foodwatch, there are now 442 fewer officers in the Consumer and Fraud Enforcement Branch than 10 years ago, while food safety inspections carried out by officials have fallen by 33% between 2012 and 2019.

What should consumers do?

Consumers in affected countries are urged to return or discard all products listed in their national product recall notices.

Tina Potter, the FSA’s incident manager, warned people, especially parents of young children, to check whether any products in their homes are affected by the recall, “especially in the run up to Easter”.

The list of products recalled in France can be found on the government consumer protection website.

All pizzas in Buitoni’s Fraîch’Up range have been recalled and must be returned or thrown away, according to the French Ministry of Health.

The serial numbers of the recalled cheese batches are 010322LI8, 030322LI8, 070322LI8, 090322LI9, 110322LI4, 150322LI3, 170322LI1, and stamped FR 14.371.001 CE, according to Fromageries de Normandie Lactalis. This is in addition to the previously recalled lot 250222LI9 bearing the stamp FR 14.371.001.

The company has also set up a free hotline for consumers in France: 0800 120 120.

People likely to have consumed the offending cheese and presenting with a fever, accompanied or not by headaches or body aches, are invited to consult their doctor.

Pregnant women, immunocompromised people and the elderly should be especially aware of these symptoms, French authorities have said.