Enormous chocolate factory shuts over salmonella outbreak


Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut paused production at its plant in Wieze, Belgium, on Monday, the company said in a statement Thursday.

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

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

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

Employees walk at Barry Callebaut production site in Wieze, near Brussels, on June 30, 2022. Swiss group Barry Callebaut, the world's largest cocoa and chocolate company, said on June 30, 2022, that it had halted chocolate production at its Wieze (Belgium) factory, billed as the world's largest, after salmonella was found in a batch on June 26.

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

“We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received impacted products,” the statement said.

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

The company, which made almost $8 billion in sales over the 2020-21 financial year, produces chocolate for other chocolate makers, including small chocolatiers and big-name brands, though it declined to provide its customers names when asked by CNN Business.

“Barry Callebaut will now take the time to continue with the very diligent root cause analysis — keeping the FAVV informed in the process. When that is completed the lines will be cleaned and disinfected before resuming the production process,” the company said.

Anna Cooban contributed reporting.

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