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Ferrero denies having taken time to react
Alerted in mid-December to the presence of salmonella in its Kinder factory in Belgium, Ferrero denies having been slow to react, as accused by the NGO Foodwatch, while 150 cases of contamination have been declared in Europe.
Since the end of March, the number of patients with salmonella, whose symptoms resemble those of gastroenteritis, has continued to swell with cases detected in nine European countries.
The first alert dates back to March 23 when the British authorities informed the Italian group that its products could be the source of salmonella contamination.
But, according to European health surveillance agencies, the first case detected in England dates back to December 21, without the link with Kinder chocolates having been established. “What did Ferrero do between December and March? asks Camille Dorioz, campaign manager for Foodwatch, who is also surprised that the recall of products in France was only ordered on April 4. The French branch of the confectioner “was only alerted on March 30 by the British authorities”, retorts the management.
Ferrero indicates that, on December 15, it identified and blocked in its Belgian factory batches contaminated with salmonella and said that it had taken hygiene measures to eliminate the presence of the bacterium. As for the Belgian health authorities, at that time, they were not notified, we specify at the confectioner.
“The investigation is ongoing and aims to understand why people fell ill while the products had been blocked“, we explain at Ferrero France about the investigations carried out by the Belgian justice.
All the chocolates produced in the Arlon factory, mainly Kinder Surprise and Schoko-Bons, were finally recalled on April 8.
For lack of guarantees, the Belgian health agency ordered the closure of the factory, harming the image of the brand for a few days. before Easter, the peak period for chocolate sales.
Ferrero gives “the impression of trying to escape from one’s responsibilities“, believes Foodwatch, which is indignant at a ” lack of transparency “.
The NGO first criticizes the first product recalls in France under “sprinkled form”affecting only certain batches, whereas this infection, generally benign, can sometimes prove to be fatal.
“Easter eggs and other Kinder Maxi Mix bunnies are not the only ones affected by the scandal”warns the NGO in a press release, according to which Kinder products could have been contaminated as early as last Christmas.
For Foodwatch, the company has “played the game of not seen, not taken”. ” The holiday season is good for Ferrero who obviously preferred to try everything and not make a withdrawal-recall at that time”judges the NGO.
“These are not risky products”opposes Ferrero, who points out that Christmas products, such as Advent calendars, left the factory before October 15, the start of the chocolate recall period. “If they are also the subject of a recall today, it is “for the sake of standardization and good understanding of consumers”specifies the chocolate giant.