February 26, 2024

The Great Chocolate Crisis: How Swift Action Halted a Salmonella Epidemic

“Preliminary interviews of very first cases showed Kinder chocolate products as a possible automobile of infection. By February 18, France had reported its first 2 cases, and by 18 March 59 cases were reported in 5 countries.
The alert reached 130 nations, and in addition to the 401 cases recognized in the EU and UK integrated (the UK had the most cases, with 128), additional cases were recognized in Switzerland (49) and Canada (4) and the USA (1)– giving a worldwide total of 455 cases in 17 countries. Of 179 cases spoke with (mostly by means of household members), 170 (95%) reported eating types of Kinder chocolate products there that were produced in the linked Belgian factory.
The authorities estimated that the initial contamination event occurred prior to December 2021; one final item was favorably identified as polluted with Salmonella on December 3, and the very first case with symptom development was on December 12.

” If not for clear and coordinated action across Europe and beyond, there may have been lots of thousands more children falling ill, and potentially numerous deaths,” says Dr. Takkinen.
“Preliminary interviews of first cases indicated Kinder chocolate products as a possible vehicle of infection. Several nations then started reporting an increasing number of infections with pressures the same as the UK outbreak,” explains Dr. Takkinen. By February 18, France had reported its very first 2 cases, and by 18 March 59 cases were reported in five countries.
Late in March 2022, ECDC coordinated a teleconference with affected countries when 4 non-human monophasic S. Typhimurium isolates, genetically near to the human isolates, were determined in a public database. Within a week, these isolates were validated as originating from one particular Belgian chocolate factory. Prior to this, determining which factory or factories were involved was challenging because there are four factories within the European Union that produce Kinder chocolate in large quantities. This brand-new microbiological evidence allowed the different companies to focus their investigations on one factory.
On April 8 authorities, now confident the factory was recognized, purchased that chocolate factory (Ferrero) closed, and 2 days later had actually provided a worldwide recall of items from the factory. The alert reached 130 nations, and in addition to the 401 cases determined in the EU and UK integrated (the UK had the most cases, with 128), additional cases were recognized in Switzerland (49) and Canada (4) and the USA (1)– giving a global total of 455 cases in 17 nations.
Children under 10 years old made up most of the reported cases (86%), and around two-thirds (61%) were female. Of 179 cases interviewed (mostly by means of household members), 170 (95%) reported eating types of Kinder chocolate products there that were produced in the linked Belgian factory.
Evaluating of multiple items from the factory resulted in 81 Salmonella positive samples, with 2 various strains, in the Belgian factory between December 3, 2021 and January 25, 2022 (most by PCR). The authorities estimated that the original contamination occasion took place prior to December 2021; one last item was positively recognized as polluted with Salmonella on December 3, and the first case with sign progression was on December 12. Due to the time required to move from production to retail sites, the majority of early cases began to appear in January 2022. The tank for anhydrous milk fat (understood as buttermilk) were identified as hot spots for contamination, with the anhydrous milk fat coming from a factory in Italy that tested unfavorable for Salmonella. The Ferrero factory went through a number of rounds of cleansing and disinfection prior to being reallowed to open on June 17, 2022, for 3 months with conditions, however having its permanent license for production reissued on September 17, 2022.
Dr. Takkinen says: “Children were at really high danger in this break out, with a number of chocolate products however mostly chocolate eggs impacted leading up to Easter. Only through intensive cooperation with multidisciplinary teams of public health specialists (microbiologists, epidemiologists) and regular cross-sectoral communication (public health– food security) were authorities able to prevent a destructive global break out.”
She adds: “Also crucial in preventing the escalation of the break out was the efficient early detection of cases through Salmonella surveillance in the UK, and the early verification of a quickly evolving multi-country outbreak thanks to prompt responses by nations.”
Meeting: ECCMID 2023

In the largest-ever chocolate recall, collaborated action across Europe and beyond avoided countless Salmonella infections linked to a Belgian factory producing Kinder Chocolate Eggs. With 455 cases throughout 17 countries, the outbreak mainly impacted kids under 10.
Avoiding a global chocolate disaster– how tracing and remembers prevented a worldwide Salmonella outbreak.
Biggest ever recall of chocolate products in international history, simply before Easter, avoided countless additional cases; an overall of 455 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium discovered in 17 countries; UK had most cases with 128.
Like any other manufactured food product, chocolate can be contaminated if crucial ingredients or procedures break down. In a presentation at a pre-ECCMID day for this years European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2023, Copenhagen), Dr. Johanna Takkinen, Principal Expert for Food- and Waterborne Diseases at the European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden, will go over the drama as the story unfolded, and the lessons gained from a break out of Salmonella Typhimurium in Kinder Chocolate Eggs traced to a Belgian chocolate factory.

By European Society of Scientific Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
April 25, 2023