The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (Afsca) has decided to give Ferrero a conditional authorization to resume production for its Arlon factory, the control body announced on Friday in a press release. The authorization, which allows activities to restart this Friday, is granted for a period of 3 months.
During this period, analyzes will be carried out on the raw materials as well as on the finished products. If the results are compliant, the batches may be placed on the market. “This decision comes after several weeks of in-depth analyzes during which the Afsca carried out several on-site checks both at the level of the internal procedures put in place by Ferrero and the infrastructure of the factory”, explains the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain. According to these analyses, Ferrero offers the necessary guarantees of compliance with food safety rules and requirements.
“Nevertheless, the Afsca has opted for a conditional authorization because the Agency considers it essential to be able to verify the concrete application of all the internal procedures once the factory has resumed its production activities”specifies the instance. “We are very happy to have received the green light from the Belgian food safety authority. We would like to thank Afsca for its invaluable advice and support”reacted Lapo Civiletti, general manager of the Italian group Ferrero, to the announcement of the news.
“We are truly sorry for what happened and would like to apologize once again to everyone affected. We have never experienced such a situation in our 75 year history. We have learned from this unfortunate event and we will do everything we can to ensure that it does not happen again”, he continued. Since the shutdown of the plant, “more than 1,800 quality tests have been carried out, 10,000 parts have been disassembled and cleaned, and significant investments have been made. This includes the replacement of equipment as well as the installation of 300 meters of new pipes”, let Ferrero know. “We have also updated product safety protocols, trainings and sampling in the factory”adds the group, which initially hoped for a restart on June 13, just in time to launch summer production, crucial for the traffic of stores for the end of the year celebrations.
For his part, the Federal Minister of Agriculture, David Clarinval, in charge of Afsca, welcomed Friday the favorable progress of the file. “The conditional authorization of the Ferrero factory in Arlon is the first step towards a final authorization. I will continue to follow developments in this file closely”, he pointed out. As a reminder, the Afsca withdrew its production permit from the factory on April 8 after the registration of around a hundred cases of salmonellosis in Europe, linked to the consumption of Kinder produced in Arlon. Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi 100 g and Kinder Schoko-Bons were concerned, in all the countries where they are distributed, and whatever their expiry date.
According to the latest tally from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 392 confirmed and 22 probable cases have been identified in EU countries and Britain. Suspected of having been slow to react to a problem identified in December, Ferrero is the target of several legal investigations. An investigation was notably opened on May 25 by the Paris prosecutor’s office for “deception aggravated by the danger to human health” and “endangering the lives of others”. Searches also took place in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in early June.