Salmonella outbreak in Ferrero products: ensuring the health of citizens
When a cluster of patients with Salmonella infection were reported mid-February 2022 and linked to positive salmonella samples in Ferrero chocolate products, the Laboratoire national de santé (LNS) Food Monitoring Service was prepared and ready to process all samples as sent by the Luxembourgish authorities in order to immediately protect the health of the citizens.
The Salmonella crisis has affected multiple European countries. In most cases, children under the age of ten became ill of whom many had to be hospitalised. In total, EU authorities have registered more than 266 confirmed cases of salmonella in Ferrero chocolate products and an additional 58 cases were suspected, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Ready to support in times of food safety crises
Mid-February 2022, a cluster of around 20 human cases with Salmonella infections was detected in the UK. The origin of this cluster was traced back to a contamination of Ferrero products with Salmonella Typhimurium in a production site in Arlon (Belgium). As a result, controls were also set up in Luxembourg, and the LNS Food Monitoring Service of the Health Protection Department was commissioned by the Administration luxembourgeoise vétérinaire et alimentaire (ALVA) to carry out the analyses of Ferrero samples for Luxembourg.
Under the lead of Catarina Martins Dos Santos, the laboratory team ensured full availability, also over the weekends, to process all samples that ALVA judged necessary to be sent to LNS for further analyses. Over a period of 3 weeks, about thirty samples from all over Luxembourg were received and analysed by the Food Monitoring Service.
In April 2022, operations at Ferrero’s Arlon factory were brought to a halt, resulting in the recall of products manufactured there. In May, Ferrero requested permission to resume production. The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain granted conditional approval for the factory in Arlon to resume production in June for an initial duration of three months. The production site in Arlon was given the final green light by the Belgian health authorities to resume full activity in September 2022.
About the LNS Food Monitoring Service
The Food Monitoring Service of the LNS carries out chemical, biochemical, and microbiological laboratory analyses in food. Samples arrive in LNS via the authorities in charge of the official food control in Luxembourg. Microbiological testing involves identifying pathogens like salmonella and hygiene indicator bacteria such as E. coli. The laboratory has been assigned as National Reference Laboratory for Luxembourg in execution of the the EU Regulation 2017/625.
Ech si ganz houfreg op den Engagement vun eisem Team während dëser Kris. Duerch hir effizient Interventioun hunn eis Kollegen wesentlech dozou bäigedroen d'Gesondheet vun eise Bierger ze schützen.
Dr Claude Schummer
Head of Food Monitoring Service