A new case of salmonella contamination has been detected at a chocolate manufacturer. How to explain these repeated cases? Is chocolate more exposed than other products to this type of contamination?
The Swiss group Barry Callebaut, world leader in cocoa and chocolate preparations, said Thursday that it had stopped production of chocolate at its factory in Wieze (Belgium), presented as the largest in the world, after the discovery of salmonella. The presence of the bacterium was discovered on Monday “in a production batch manufactured in Wieze”. “Our quality experts have identified lecithin as the source of the contamination”, says the wholesaler in a press release.
Salmonella is a bacterium found in animal products. What are the dangers? “Usually, it is responsible for gastroenteritis, possibly accompanied by vomiting and a slight fever. It is a rather minor infection for the vast majority of the population. It can be more severe in immunocompromised, fragile patients. and possibly in very young children., explains Jean-Marc Minon, head of the clinical biology laboratory at the citadel in Liège. This can also lead to hospitalization.
Present in fatty and sugary products
Why is there a lot of salmonella in chocolate these days? This is explained by the fact that chocolate is one of the products that promote its development. “Cereals, chocolate, dried fruits, milk powder… A whole series of products that have a high fat and sugar content and a low water activity”, explains Aline Van Den Broek, spokesperson for the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain.
In the case of the contamination detected, salmonella was in lecithin, a product that binds sugar to cocoa. “It is a product which is an animal derivative and therefore undeniably, it is undoubtedly at the beginning of the chain that there was bacterial contamination by salmonella and which ended up in lecithin, i.e. the product of basis for intervening in the manufacture of chocolate”, deciphers Jean-Marc Minon.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms of salmonella disappear after a few days.