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Enormous chocolate factory shuts over salmonella outbreak

<i>Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Swiss group Barry Callebaut
AFP via Getty Images
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images
Swiss group Barry Callebaut

By Manveena Suri and Chris Liakos, CNN Business

A chocolate factory in Belgium has temporarily shut its doors after discovering salmonella in a production batch.

Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut paused production at its plant in Wieze, Belgium, on Monday, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The Wieze plant is the biggest chocolate factory in the world, according to government tourism website Visit Flanders.

“For Barry Callebaut food safety is paramount. Our robust food safety programs in place allowed us to quickly identify lecithin as the source of the contamination,” the company said in the statement, adding that Belgian food authorities (FAVV) were informed of the incident.

Lecithin is a fatty substance used to bind together other ingredients in the chocolate.

The company said it has taken precautionary measures, including recalling all products manufactured since the time of testing. Production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.

“We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received impacted products,” the statement said.

In a statement Friday, Barry Callebaut said no contaminated chocolate had “entered the retail food chain.”

The company, which made almost $8 billion in sales over the 2020-21 financial year, produces chocolate for other chocolate makers, including small chocolatiers and big-name brands, though it declined to provide its customers names when asked by CNN Business.

“Barry Callebaut will now take the time to continue with the very diligent root cause analysis — keeping the FAVV informed in the process. When that is completed the lines will be cleaned and disinfected before resuming the production process,” the company said.

Anna Cooban contributed reporting.

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