Belgium orders Ferrero plant shut over Kinder salmonella link

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Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, a brand of Italian confectionary group Ferrero, are seen on display in a supermarket in Islamabad, Pakistan July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

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BRUSSELS, April 8 (Reuters) - Belgian health authorities ordered Italian confectionary group Ferrero on Friday to suspend production at its plant in Belgium, after an investigation into dozens of cases of salmonella linked to the company's Kinder chocolates.

Ferrero, which recalled several batches of Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs and other products from shelves in Spain, Britain, Ireland and United States, said other Kinder products made at its Arlon site had also been recalled.

The company did not explicitly link the recall to the salmonella cases.

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But Belgium's food safety agency AFSCA-FAVV said that a link had been confirmed between more than a hundred cases of salmonella over several weeks and Ferrero production in southern Belgium.

On Wednesday, Europe's health agency had said it was investigating dozens of reported and suspected cases of salmonella linked with eating chocolate in at least nine countries, mostly among children aged under 10. read more

The Arlon plant accounts for around 7% of total global volumes of Kinder products, Ferrero said.

The Belgian agency said the decision to suspend production there was taken after it concluded that information from Ferrero was incomplete. Lifting the suspension would only happen once the plant was shown to be meeting all food safety rules.

The agency urged consumers not to eat any of the recalled products, which include Kinder Surprise, Kinder Surprise Maxi, Kinder Mini Eggs & Kinder Schokobons.

The company said there were internal inefficiencies, creating delays in retrieving and sharing information in a timely manner.

It previously described recalls as precautionary and said that no Kinder products released to the market had tested positive for salmonella.

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Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru, Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and John Stonestreet

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