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Salmonella outbreak shuts down major Belgian chocolate factory

The Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has shut down its production in the Belgian town of Wieze which it says is the biggest chocolate factory in the world over cases of salmonella food poisoning.

The factory informed the Belgian food authorities and is now contacting all its customers, Korneel Warlop, a spokesperson for Barry Callebaut told POLITICO. Those customers are other companies who process the chocolate for consumer products.

At this point, it’s unclear whether some of the infected chocolate has actually reached consumers, Warlop said. “So far it’s looking good, but the mapping is still work in progress.”

Barry Callebaut is the largest chocolate producer in the world, which it supplies to companies and brands who produce their own consumer products. A quarter of Callebaut’s production is made in Belgium, which makes the factory in Wieze by far the largest chocolate factory in the world, Warlop said.

Barry Callebaut’s open communication stands in contrast with the way Ferrero handled a similar incident in April this year. Ferrero also shut down a Belgium-based chocolate factory over salmonella, but played down the risks and also declined to comment to the media about the cases. The factory was eventually reopened mid-June.

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