The contaminated raw materials that forced Barry Callebaut to halt chocolate production in Belgium came from Hungary.
One batch of lecithin was unloaded at the Wieze factory on June 25. Barry Callebaut confirmed Salmonella Tennessee has been identified in the lecithin system of the factory and in samples of the delivered material. This batch came from a lecithin manufacturer in Hungary and was transported by a third party. The lecithin involved is only used at this site.
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 on June 29.
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.
On July 1, Barry Callebaut confirmed that, based on its internal investigation, no affected products had entered the retail food chain. No implicated chocolate has been exported by the company outside Europe.
Wider impact and investigations
Affected countries include Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, according to a RASFF alert.
Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian food authority about the incident. The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) has been to the site as part of an investigation.
The National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) in Hungary has 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.
Impacted customers can remove and destroy liquid chocolate stock impacted by the incident from their tanks and lines under certain conditions. They will then be able to clean, disinfect and to restart production. This does not yet apply to solid chocolate.
Barry Callebaut is carrying out a root cause analysis as well as cleaning and disinfecting production lines before resuming operations. A date has not yet been set for restart.
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