Barry Callebaut suspends chocolate production from its core Belgian site amid Salmonella detection

Swiss-headquartered Barry Callebaut has confirmed that it has temporarily suspended production at its primary manufacturing site at Wieze in Belgium, after detecting a salmonella positive production lot, reports Neill Barston.

The group, which supplies chocolate to major confectionery brands around the world, stated that it has made food safety of paramount importance, and has moved to quickly investigate the source of the issue.

Among its key global clients are Hershey, Mondelez, Unilever as well as a wide range of premium confectionery groups including Guylian, Leonidas, Neuhaus.

It follows a similar problem for Ferrero, after its own facilities were forced to shut down for several months due to a number of salmonella cases across Europe were confirmed, linked to its Kinder range of chocolate confectionery produced at Arlon in Belgium.

The company has confirmed that following internal investigations last weekend, that none of the affected batch of chocolate has entered the retail supply chain, with the business ensuring it engaged with any customers potentially impacted by the outbreak.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported from a site visit to Barry Callebaut’s manufacturing facilities in Wieze, the site, which is one of the largest in the world, is critical for its international operations, including producing its most recent addition to its range, ruby chocolate at the location.

In a statement of on the situation, it said: “Our robust food safety programs in place allowed us to quickly identify lecithin as the source of the contamination. Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian food authorities (FAVV) about the incident and has taken the precautionary measure to stop all chocolate production lines and to block all products manufactured since the time of testing. We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received impacted products. The chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.

“Our quality experts identified lecithin as the source of the contamination. As lecithin is used in all chocolate production, we have taken the precautionary measure to stop all production lines and to block all products manufactured since the time of testing, while we continue the root cause analysis and risk assessment. Out of precaution, we have also asked our customers to block any shipped products.

“Food Safety is paramount for Barry Callebaut and this is a very exceptional case. Not only do we have a Food Safety charter and procedure in place, we also have over twenty people working on food safety and quality in Europe. In our local site in Wieze, we train our people to recognise food safety risks. This allowed us to quickly identify the risk and successfully start the root cause analysis.”

The business added that it will explore the root cause of the salmonella case, and noted it would keep authorities updated, with its temporarily halted lines undergoing complete disinfection before they will be permitted to start-up again.


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