Chocolate-maker Ferrero has recalled 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products made at a factory in Arlon, south-eastern Belgium, since the beginning of April. The chocolate products were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries, according to RFI.
'This crisis is heartbreaking'
Kinder makes Kinder Surprise Eggs, a popular chocolate treat for children. Out of the 150 cases, 81 were located in France, largely impacting children under 10 years old.
Kinder is owned by Italian confectionery giant Ferrero. The General Manager of Ferrero France, Nicolas Neykov, told Le Parisien in an interview on Thursday 26 May:
This crisis is heartbreaking. It's the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years.
Neykov told Le Parisien that the contamination came ‘from a filtre located in a vat for dairy butter’ at the factory in Belgium. He added that either humans or raw materials could have caused the contamination.
First detected back in December 2021
The first case was detected back on 15 December 2021. While they stopped production, closed the factory, and disposed of the products, after test results came back negative they reopened the factory. Neykov claims:
At that time, we were absolutely certain that no contaminated product has been put on the market
What happened afterwards? The investigation will tell.
According to Neykov, it was only on 2 April that the English authorities established a link with the consumption of Kinder Surprise, forcing the group to recall its products in Great Britain and France the following day. Products have also been recalled in Australia and New Zealand, according to news.com.au. Belgian justice opened a judicial investigation in April, which is ongoing.
The scandal is a major financial blow for Ferrero. According to Neykov, it will cost them 'several tens of millions of euros.' Easter is normally a peak period for the company, however this year it lost 40% of its usual turnover, according to The Brussels Times.
While the investigation is ongoing, the company has been compensating affected customers and hopes to re-start production and re-open the factory from 13 June.