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125 salmonella cases linked to Ferrero chocolate factory in Belgium

Food safety authorities are investigating 125 cases of salmonella food poisoning reported in several European countries with evidence pointing to potentially contaminated chocolate eggs made at a Ferrero factory in Belgium, according to officials.

“The Commission indeed confirms that it is closely following the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium which is currently ongoing in several EU Member States and in the UK,” EU spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker told POLITICO in an email, adding: “Withdrawal and recall of suspected batches are ongoing.”

“Epidemiological and analytical evidence points to an establishment producing chocolate products in Arlon (Belgium),” he added. That is the location of a Ferrero factory.

The 125 cases are spread across France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Sweden, with the BBC reporting 63 cases in the U.K. alone, mostly in young children.

The U.K.’s Food Standards Agency made a direct link to Ferrero on Monday, announcing it is asking the company to recall some Kinder Surprise products because of the “possible presence” of salmonella. “Only Kinder Surprise products manufactured in Belgium are affected,” it said on its website. Ferrero has announced it is withdrawing the products in question.

In Ireland, where there have been 10 cases, the Food Safety Authority (FSAI) announced it was recalling Kinder products on Saturday. FSAI Chief Executive Pamela Byrne wrote: “Given that we are approaching Easter, we would urge parents and guardians to check at home if they have any of the products and if they do, to ensure that any are not eaten.”

Four cases have been reported in Sweden since January, all in children who had eaten Kinder products, a Swedish official said. They added that Swedish authorities are investigating the origin of the outbreak.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control held a meeting with national officials Monday to coordinate responses. A spokesperson for the other relevant EU agency, the European Food Safety Authority, said they are “aware” of the situation.

Ferrero did not respond to POLITICO’s request for comment by the time of publication. The Italian food giant told the BBC that none of its products on sale had tested positive for salmonella.

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