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The Belgian Food Safety Authority has given Ferrero the green light to restart production at the plant following a major international outbreak of salmonellosis.

The Federal Agency for Food Chain Safety (FASFC) has decided to grant a conditional permit for the construction of a plant in Arlon, Belgium.

FASFC, also known as AFSCA and FAVV, suspended operations at the factory in April, leading to a recall of all Kinder products that were made there. This action was taken because the authorities said the company could not provide guarantees regarding pollution management or the safety of its products.

Ferrero acknowledged that there were “internal inefficiencies” that created delays in receiving and sharing information that affected the speed and effectiveness of investigations.

In May, Ferrero submitted an application to the FASFC in order to get permission for production again. The Arlon plant produces about 7 percent of Kinder’s worldwide production per year.

Conditional approval granted
A monophasic outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with Kinder chocolate has infected almost 450 people, including 122 people in the United Kingdom, 118 people in France, four people in Canada and one person in the United States.

Two outbreak strains were identified in 10 of 81 positive Salmonella samples taken from the Arlon plant in Belgium between December 2021 and January 2022. Sampling of products and processing conditions was increased, but batches of chocolate were released to the market after testing negative for Salmonella.

Ferrero said the decision means the plant will begin the process of reopening and gradually restarting production lines over the next few weeks.

Conditional approval was granted for three months. During this period, raw materials and each batch of food will be analyzed. They will only be released to the market if the results meet the requirements.

The decision was made after FASFC carried out several on-site reviews of Ferrero’s internal procedures and plant infrastructure. The agency concluded that Ferrero now offers the necessary guarantees to meet food safety requirements.

However, FASFC said the approval was conditional as internal procedures needed to be tested once production resumed at the plant. If the results of the inspection at the end of the three-month period are satisfactory, a full permit must be issued.

The Luxembourg prosecutor’s office is also investigating the incident.

Restart planning
About 1,000 Ferrero employees and independent specialists worked on the restart.

More than 1800 quality tests have been carried out, 10,000 parts have been dismantled and cleaned. The investment includes the replacement of several pieces of equipment and the installation of 300 meters of new pipeline. The company has also updated product safety protocols, training and sampling.

“We are very pleased to receive the green light from the Belgian Food Safety Authority. We sincerely regret what happened and would like to once again apologize to all those affected. In our entire 75-year history, we have never faced such a situation. We have learned from this unfortunate event and will do everything to ensure that it does not happen again,” said Lapo Civiletti, CEO of the Ferrero Group.

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