Huge chocolate factory closes following salmonella outbreak

By Manveena Suri and Chris Liakos, CNN Business

A chocolate factory in Belgium has temporarily closed after discovering salmonella in a production batch.

Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut on Monday suspended production at its factory in Wieze, Belgium, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The factory in Wieze is the largest chocolate factory in the world, according to the government tourism website Visit Flanders.

“For Barry Callebaut, food safety is paramount. Our strong food safety programs in place allowed us to quickly identify lecithin as a source of contamination,” the company said in the statement, adding that Belgian food authorities (FAVV) had been notified of the incident.

Lecithin is a fatty substance used to bind other ingredients in chocolate.

The company said it has taken precautionary measures, including recalling all products manufactured since the time of testing. Production at Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.

“We are currently contacting all customers who may have received affected products,” the statement said.

In a statement on Friday, Barry Callebaut said no contaminated chocolate had “entered the retail food chain”.

The company, which made nearly $8 billion in sales in the 2020-21 fiscal year, produces chocolate for other chocolatiers, including small chocolatiers and big brands, though it declined to provide the names of its customers when requested by CNN Business.

“Barry Callebaut will now take the time to continue the very diligent root cause analysis – keeping the FAVV informed of the process. When this is complete, the lines will be cleaned and disinfected before resuming the production process,” said the society.

Anna Cooban contributed reporting.

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