Salmonella outbreak: Kids hospitalized as Kinder chocolate recalled, factory closed

Kids have been hospitalized and a chocolate factory closed in Europe, with the products in question also sold in Australia. Here is what you need to know.

A week out from Easter, a chocolate factory in Belgium has been shut down due to a “rapidly evolving” salmonella outbreak in Europe, which has triggered global concern.

The Kinder-branded products at risk, which are popular with children, are also sold outside of Europe, including in Australia.

Australia’s food safety authority has issued a recall for eight Kinder products, including an “Easter Basket” of chocolates.

The situation in Europe has seen cases of salmonella infection reported in at least nine countries so far, mainly among children under 10 years old.

Here is what you need to know.

The recalled products

The Kinder products of concern were manufactured at a factory in Arlon, Belgium, which is owned by Ferrero. Authorities have said Kinder products manufactured in Italy are not part of the recall.

If you have the following products, Food Standards Australia & New Zealand instructs you do not eat them and instead return the products to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Any consumers concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

Barcode information (applies to all best before dates and batch codes):

Kinder Easter Basket 120g (6x20g): 19300698000619

Kinder Mini Eggs Hazelnut: 100g: 19300698020242; 270g; 9300698503618; 750g: 9300698503618

Kinder Surprise Maxi (Miraculous) 100g: 19300698018591​

Kinder Surprise Maxi (Natoons) 100g​: 19300698016528​

Kinder Surprise Xmas Maxi (Disney Frozen 2021) 100g: 9300698502246

Kinder Surprise Xmas Maxi (2021) 100g: 9300698501935

Kinder Maxi Xmas Mix with Plush (2021) 133g: 9300698504004

Kinder Xmas Happy Moments Ballotin (2021) 190g: 9300698503960

The products have been sold nationally at Coles, Woolworths, Target, Kmart, Big W, independent food retailers including IGA and petrol stations, and online.

The concern

As of Friday, 142 cases of salmonella infection linked to the outbreak had been reported in the United Kingdom and eight other European countries.

The first case was identified in the UK on January 7.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said an unusually high proportion of children were being hospitalised, some with “severe clinical symptoms” such as bloody diarrhoea.

Based on its research, specific chocolate products were identified as the likely route of infection.

It warned some cases may be undetected due to the method of testing used not being routinely performed in all countries.

Food Standards Australia & New Zealand told news.com.au on Tuesday it was not aware of any confirmed or suspected cases linked to the recalled products in Australia.

Belgium’s food safety authority, AFSCA, announced it had ordered Ferrero to stop operations at its Arlon factory late last week and said there were issues getting information from the company for its investigation.

The factory will not reopen until the authority gives its approval.

Belgian Agriculture Minister David Clarinval said the decision was not taken lightly.

“Such a decision is never taken lightly, but the current circumstances make it necessary. The food security of our citizens can never be neglected,” he said in a statement.

In a statement, Ferrero said it deeply regretted the matter and apologized to consumers.

Salmonella infection (Salmonellosis)

Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea (that can also be bloody), fever, headache, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting

It can sometimes cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints or the nervous system, and can cause severe disease.

Symptoms usually start between six and 72 hours after the contaminated food is eaten and usually last for four to seven days, but sometimes much longer.

UK mum Charlotte Elizabeth Wingfield shared her experience on Facebook, saying she initially thought her young daughter had a stomach bug before noticing some other strange symptoms.

Ms Wingfield said her three-year-old “kept falling asleep while she was doing things” and her temperature “spiked to over 39C”.

It was later confirmed her daughter had salmonella from the Kinder chocolate she had eaten days before and begged other parents to check their chocolates and throw them away.

“She’s been completely dead behind the eyes & so lifeless, it’s been absolutely heartbreaking to see my usually fiery, adventurous & very active baby girl be the complete opposite of everything she usually is,” Ms Wingfield wrote in the post on Friday.

In a post on Monday, a week after eating the chocolate, Ms Wingfield shared that her daughter was still struggling and in an “extreme amount of pain”.

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