A Barry Callebaut chocolate factory in Belgium is back operating at full capacity after a Salmonella contamination scare earlier this year.

Cleaning of the factory in Wieze is nearing completion so it has returned to running at normal levels after operations were stopped in late June.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our customers for their understanding during this difficult period, and to all our employees who worked tirelessly for weeks to get the Wieze factory up and running again,” said Peter Boone, CEO of Barry Callebaut.

The company previously warned the incident is expected to have a significant financial impact when the full year result figures are published in November.

Mondelez was one of several companies impacted, as it is supplied by Barry Callebaut. The alert meant it had to limit the retail availability of several ranges of biscuits.

Barry Callebaut said the cleaning operation was “unprecedented” in scale and a time-consuming process. At the site in Wieze, employees are trained to recognize food safety issues. This allowed the risk to be identified quickly, a root cause analysis undertaken and the cleaning process started.

Incident timeline
One batch of contaminated lecithin was unloaded at the Wieze factory on June 25. Barry Callebaut confirmed Salmonella Tennessee in the lecithin system of the factory and in samples of the raw material. The implicated batch came from a lecithin manufacturer in Hungary and was transported by a third party. The lecithin involved was 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, with production stopped.

Lecithin is used in all chocolate production lines, so the company blocked 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 no affected products had entered the retail supply chain.

Sanitization of the affected solid chocolate line started on July 5 and July 14 for the liquid line in consultation with the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). On August 8, the first cleaned and disinfected production lines were reopened and over the next few weeks operations were gradually ramped up to normal capacity. 

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