BELGIUM – World’s leading supplier of chocolate and cocoa products Barry Callebaut has announced that its Weize Factory in Belgium is back to normal capacity after a salmonella incident in July temporarily paralyzed operations.
The Weize Factory hit headlines in late June when a salmonella-positive chocolate production lot was detected at the facility leading to the halting of all chocolate production lines at the factory as a precautionary measure.
The chocolate and cocoa giant stressed that most of the chocolate infected didn’t leave the plant, but the company launched an investigation into the cause of the contamination at the time.
Barry later traced the salmonella to a lecithin batch from a supplier and in collaboration with the Belgian Food Safety Authorities, embarked on a robust, clean-up exercise.
In the following weeks, the Wieze factory continued to ramp up to normal capacity while strictly following a laid-out cleaning procedure to ensure food safety and the safety of its employees, notes the company.
Exactly 105 days after the incident was first reported, Barry is happy to announce that cleaning is nearing completion, allowing for it to go back to operating at normal capacity.
A relieved CEO Peter Boone said: “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our customers for their understanding during this difficult period, and to all our employees who worked tirelessly for weeks to get the Wieze factory up and running again.”
Although Barry was lucky in identifying the problem early, Ferrero, another chocolate major, was not, only managing to identify contamination after the products had reached the market and affected several consumers who were mostly children.
The salmonella outbreak in Ferrero production lines forced The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland to advise consumers to avoid Ferrero Kinder products with best-before dates of July 11 and October 7, 2022.
The food agencies enforced a precautionary product recall, and it wasn’t until June 17 that the health authorities allowed the restart of the Ferrero plant.
For the plant to restart operations, more than 1,000 Ferrero employees and independent specialists worked at the plant continuously, according to Ferrero.
They were involved in various activities, including carrying out 1,800 quality tests and dismantling and cleaning more 10,000 parts of various equipment at the chocolate facility.
The company also revealed that it invested heavily in the replacement of multiple pieces of equipment as well as the installation of 300 meters of new pipeline.
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