Charlie and the Salmonella Factory: World’s Largest Chocolate Plant Shuts Down Over Contamination

Charlie and the Salmonella Factory: World’s Largest Chocolate Plant Shuts Down Over Contamination

A Swiss chocolate manufacturer paused production this week at the largest plant in the world following a positive test for salmonella.

On June 27, chocolate company Barry Callebaut detected salmonella in some of the chocolate that was produced at its factory in Wieze, Belgium. The company says that its Wieze factory is the largest chocolate factory in the world, putting Willy Wonka to shame. Barry Callebaut stated on its website that all chocolate products manufactured at their Wieze facility since June 25 have been placed on hold, and production at that factory will be paused indefinitely as further investigations into the salmonella outbreak continue. The company is also asking all customers reject any deliveries of the company’s chocolate for the time being.

The company explained on its website that lecithin was the cause of the outbreak, but the scale of the contamination is unknown since the company stated that lecithin is used “in all chocolate production.”

“Barry Callebaut informed the Belgian food authorities (FAVV) about the incident and has taken the precautionary measure to stop all chocolate production lines and to block all products manufactured since the time of testing,” the company said on its website. “We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received impacted products. The chocolate production in Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.”

According to the Chocolate Journalist, lecithin — which is usually soy lecithin — is typically used as a way to decrease chocolate’s viscosity, making it easier to mould and temper. Other fats like cocoa butter can achieve similar results, but lecithin is usually a much cheaper option.

The customers of the Barry Callebaut are other companies that process the chocolate for consumers. In other words, Barry Callebut is more of a chocolate provider, and less of a direct-to-consumer brand, which will hopefully make it easier to track the spread of the contamination