Barry Callebaut has halted production at one of its factories in Belgium after detecting Salmonella.

The company found the positive production lot on June 27 and blocked all chocolate products made at the Wieze site since testing on June 25. All chocolate production lines have been stopped at what some say is the largest chocolate factory in the world.

Lecithin has been identified as the source of the contamination. This ingredient is used in chocolate production to reduce thickness.

The type of Salmonella found has not been disclosed but it is thought potentially contaminated products have not reached consumers and no related illnesses have been reported.

Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian food authority about the incident and is in the process of contacting customers who may have received impacted products so they can also block any shipped items that may be affected.

The Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) confirmed it had been told about the presence of Salmonella at Barry Callebaut’s production factory.

“We immediately went to the site to start an investigation in cooperation with the factory. If it appears that there is a risk for consumers, we will take the necessary measures. In the current state of investigations, internal information from Barry Callebaut shows that the potentially affected products have not reached the consumer but we are continuing to investigate,” said a spokeswoman.

In a statement, Barry Callebaut said it was a very exceptional case.

“Not only do we have a food safety charter and procedure in place, we also have over 20 people working on food safety and quality in Europe. In our local site in Wieze, we train our people to recognize food safety risks. This allowed us to quickly identify the risk and successfully start the root cause analysis.”

A root cause analysis and risk assessment is ongoing and when this is complete, the lines will be cleaned and disinfected before resuming the production process.

Other Salmonella in chocolate incidents

It is the latest in a series of Salmonella in chocolate incidents so far this year.

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 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.

In Israel, Strauss had approval of its Nof Hagalil site suspended for three months in April after around 20 Salmonella infections were linked to confectionery produced at the factory.

Elite branded items were recalled from countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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