Chocolate producer Barry Callebaut halted production at its Wieze factory in East Flanders – the world’s largest chocolate factory – after salmonella was discovered in a production area. The company announced this on Thursday.
All chocolate products produced in Wieze after June 25 are banned. The factory where liquid and hard chocolate is made has been closed. At the moment, according to a spokesperson for Korneel Warlop, there are no indications that the chocolate has reached the consumer. “The vast majority of the products are still with us. The rest are in our customers’ stores,” it seems. Chocolate from Wieze is sent to processors, so not directly to the consumer. That may be confirmed later on Thursday.
On Monday, June 27, Barry Callebaut discovered a salmonella-positive production batch, which had been manufactured in Wieze. Strong food safety programs have ensured that lecithin can be quickly identified as a source of contamination. Barry Callebaut himself reported the incident to the Federal Food Safety Agency (FAVV) and as a precaution he shut down all chocolate production lines in Wieze. All products made since testing have been banned.
Chocolate production at Wieze will remain suspended until further notice. As a precaution, the company has contacted all customers and requested that all potentially shipped products be banned.
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Barry Callebaut will take the time to trace the root cause of the contamination, and will keep the FASFC informed throughout the process. “When this is successfully completed, the production lines will be cleaned and disinfected before production can resume.” The company cannot say how long production will stop. FASFC will also have to give the go-ahead before restarting.
Company spokesman Cornell Warlop said the company expects additional information through Thursday.
1,200 people work in Wieze, of whom 600 work in the factory. They will also be there on Thursday. Looks like they’re preparing to clean up the entire site.
In April, the Ferrero chocolate company was forced to shut down its Arlon chocolate factory after salmonella contamination. The factory was only allowed to restart under certain conditions in June.