Salmonella outbreak halts production at huge chocolate factory in Belgium which provides for Hershey, Nestle, Mondelez and Unilever which could lead to shortages in Europe and UK

A SALMONELLA outbreak has halted production at a chocolate factory in Belgium which supplies the world’s biggest brands.

Friday, 1st July 2022, 12:09 pm

The Barry Callebaut factory, in Wieze, ground to a halt until further notice on Monday after the food poisoning bacteria was found.

Barry Callebaut is considered the largest producer of chocolate in the world.

Hershey, Nestle and Unilever are among the brands which the large chocolate factory provides, and the move is set to cause supply shortages in Europe, and potentially the UK.

A picture shows hot chocolate before being moulded at the Barry Callebaut chocolate factory in Wieze, Belgium. Picture: GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images.

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A spokesperson from Barry Callebaut said outbreak is caused by an ingredient called lecithin, which is used to bind together cocoa, sugar, and milk.

They added: ‘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.

The logo of Barry Callebaut on the production site premises in Wieze, near Brussels. Picture: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images.

‘The chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.’

Barry Callebaut, a Swiss firm, is one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers.

It is responsible for turning roughly 20 per cent of the world’s cocoa bean supply in confectionary.

Tests found some of the chocolate produced contained Salmonella.

Food manufacturers have to regularly test products for harmful bacteria, under UK and European laws.

Salmonella is a bacteria which can cause severe sickness if ingested by humans.

When animals are reared, slaughtered and then processed, the bacteria can latch onto products destined for human consumption.

Lecithin, which caused the outbreak, is found in anything from soya to egg yolks.

Barry Callebaut supplies manufacturers including Cadbury Dairy Milk-owner Mondelez, The Hershey Company, Nestle and Unilever – which produce most of the chocolate consumed in the UK.

Production has stopped since the outbreak, and a recall being issued to its commercial customers.

That is likely to cause disruption to chocolate supplies across Europe.

It is currently uncertain whether this would impact the UK.

The recall is unlikely to directly affect shoppers as Barry Callebaut is a supplier to other businesses rather than a consumer-facing company.