Eight countries have reported more than 100 Salmonella infections linked to Ferrero chocolate products.
There are 105 confirmed and 29 probable monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium infections mainly among younger people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
There is an “unusually high” proportion of children hospitalized, some with severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, said the two agencies.
The United Kingdom is the most affected country with 63 cases. Those sick have sample dates between December 2021 and March 2022, with the majority confirmed in February and March.
Cases are 18 years old or younger, with around 60 percent under the age of 5. There are more females than males sick. At least nine people were hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.
There are 20 confirmed cases in France, 10 in Ireland, four each in Germany and Sweden, two in the Netherlands and one each in Luxembourg and Norway. Belgium is investigating 26 probable cases and Germany has three.
French health authorities were informed by the Institut Pasteur’s National Reference Centre for Salmonella of 21 cases of salmonellosis throughout the country. Eight of them were hospitalized but have since returned home. The median age of patients is 4 years old.
Investigations by Santé Publique France pointed to certain Kinder brand products in 15 patients who were interviewed. These products were manufactured in the same factory in Arlon, Belgium.
In Sweden, the four cases, all of which are children, fell ill from January to March and live in several different regions. The Norwegian patient was sick at the end of February and was infected with the same type of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium that was detected in the UK.
Based on interviews with patients and initial analytical epidemiological studies across Europe, Ferrero chocolate products have been identified as the likely route of infection.
ECDC and EFSA are assessing other data from countries and will publish an outbreak assessment in the coming weeks.
Ferrero has expanded a product withdrawal and recall involving Kinder Mini eggs, Kinder Egg Hunt Kit 150-gram, Kinder Surprise 100-gram and Kinder Schokobons with best before dates between April 20 and Aug. 21, 2022.
In a statement, the company said no Kinder products released to market have tested positive for Salmonella.
“While the situation remains the same, we are fully aware that Easter is approaching, where we see an increase in sales of these products and therefore, as an additional precautionary measure, we have decided to voluntarily recall the products listed above due to these additional products having been manufactured in the same facility in Belgium, within the same time frame,” according to the company’s statement.
“The company takes food safety extremely seriously and we sincerely apologize for this matter. Our continued commitment to consumer care has driven our decision to extend the voluntary recall.”
Pamela Byrne, chief executive at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), warned consumers not to eat the affected products.
“Ferrero has now extended its list of products that are being recalled. If anyone has any of the affected products at home, we are advising them not to eat them. We know that many of these Kinder products are popular at this time of year with Easter approaching. We urge consumers to check at home if they have any of the products and if they do, to ensure that they are not eaten.”
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