450 sick in Ferrero chocolate Salmonella outbreak

450 sick in Ferrero chocolate Salmonella outbreak

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A Salmonella outbreak linked to Kinder chocolate has sickened more than 450 people, based on the latest figures.

Only 10 cases have been reported in the month since the previous European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) update, bringing the total to 455 as of mid-July.

The outbreak has hospitalized a high proportion of people, mostly children younger than 10 years of age, and some had severe clinical symptoms including bloody diarrhea.

The latest monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium case is from the United Kingdom with a sampling date of June 16. Concerns were previously raised by authorities that potentially contaminated chocolate could still be on sale despite a recall in April.

The UK has the most patients with 128 followed by France with 121. Belgium has recorded 66 sick people, 49 are ill in Switzerland, 34 in Germany, 18 in Ireland and 14 in Austria. There are still four cases in Canada and one in the United States.

Sweden, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark and Czech Republic all have single-figure case numbers.

Affected cases have been identified through advanced molecular typing techniques. As this method is not routinely performed in all countries, some may be undetected, said ECDC.

The first patient was reported in the UK on Jan. 7, with a sampling date of Dec. 21, 2021. 

Factory restart

Operations at Ferrero’s Arlon factory were suspended in April, which led to the recall of products made there. Potentially implicated chocolate was distributed to at least 113 countries. 

In May, Ferrero asked to be allowed to produce again and in June, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) gave conditional approval for the plant in Belgium to restart.

This approval lasts for three months. Raw materials and each batch of foodstuffs will be analyzed and only released if results are compliant.

About 1,000 Ferrero employees and independent specialists worked on the restart. More than 1,800 quality tests were completed and 10,000 parts dismantled and cleaned. Investments included replacing multiple pieces of equipment and installing 300 meters of new pipeline. 

Two outbreak strains were identified in 10 of 81 Salmonella positive samples taken in the Arlon plant between December 2021 and January 2022. Sampling of products and the processing environment was increased but batches of chocolate were released to market after negative Salmonella testing.

An investigation into the incident by the Luxembourg Public Prosecutor’s Office is ongoing.

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