Ferrero U.S.A., Inc., the owner of Kinder Chocolate, Nutella and Tic Tacs, among other brands, is voluntarily recalling its Kinder Happy Moments Chocolate Assortment and Kinder Mix Chocolate Treats basket, due to possible Salmonella contamination.
“While there are no reports of illness in the United States to date, Ferrero is voluntarily recalling the products out of an abundance of caution due to reported cases of Salmonella in consumers that consumed products in Europe that were manufactured at the same facility,” the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a press release.
Meanwhile in Europe, Belgian authorities have halted Kinder chocolate production at a plant in the country’s south, saying Ferrero supplied it with “incomplete information” regarding a recent outbreak of Salmonella poisoning in Europe.
“With immediate effect, the entire production of Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi 100g and Kinder Schokobons made in Arlon is being recalled,” Ferrero announced last week in a statement.
The multi-country recall started with a case of Salmonella identified in the UK in January. Now, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) say that as of last week, at least 142 cases of the foodborne illness have been reported, mainly in children, across several countries.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland recalled the products, stating that there has been 15 cases of Salmonella in the country with the same strain found in the UK. In France, 21 cases of the same strain have been reported so far, eight of whom were hospitalized. French health authorities said the median age of the cases was four years old.
Additionally, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark have all recalled select Kinder chocolate products and warned consumers to return or throw them away after a number of people became ill. In total, nine countries have reported 119 confirmed and 28 probable Salmonella infections linked to Kinder chocolates.
Ferrero is just one company affected by recalls in recent weeks leading up to Easter due to foodborne illness outbreaks across Europe. Nestlé-owned Buitoni recently recalled its entire range of Fraîch’Up frozen pizzas and Lactalis recalled tens of thousands of its cheeses, after the products were suspected of carrying E. coli and Listeria bacteria, respectively.
Consumer advocacy groups say the health scares identify a weak system of safety checks across the food industry that needs to be overhauled. Foodwatch, a non-government organization (NGO) advocating for food safety, said “these kinds of food scandals are proof that the food system is in dire need of reform in terms of consumer protection and food safety.”
The problem, however, doesn’t lie in regulations, but in a lack of enforcement by member states. According to the NGO, there are now 442 fewer agents in France’s directorate for consumer affairs and fraud control than there were ten years ago, while food safety inspections carried out by government officials have fallen by 33 percent between 2012 and 2019.
In the meantime, consumers across Europe, the US and Canada are encouraged to return or dispose of any Kinder chocolate products listed in their national product recall notices, especially as Easter approaches.