Rapid follow-up and government alerts averted a global salmonella outbreak last year, according to a recent analysis.
"Without a clear and coordinated approach across Europe and beyond, thousands more children might have fallen ill and many might have died," said epidemic expert Johanna Takkinen from the European health authority ECDC, based in Stockholm, according to a statement. At an international conference with health experts, the outbreak should be processed and learned from this week.
Last spring, surprise eggs and other Ferrero products were recalled in several countries - including Germany - after an increase in salmonella cases had been identified. The UK has been a hotspot with 128 cases. The cause turned out to be contamination in a Belgian chocolate factory.
Alerts in 130 countries
"Preliminary surveys of the first cases pointed to children's chocolate products as a possible carrier of the infection," Takkinen said. Several countries have subsequently reported an increasing number of cases identical to those of the UK outbreak. Rapid international coordination and the comparison of samples and data made it possible to determine the Belgian chocolate factory as the place of origin of the salmonella. As a result, warnings were issued in 130 countries.
According to Takkinen, it was only through interdisciplinary cooperation between microbiologists, epidemiologists and food safety experts that a "worldwide outbreak" could be prevented. Close surveillance in Great Britain also prevented worse things from happening.
In September 2022, Ferrero had received final approval to keep the affected factory open in Arlon, Belgium. This was already done temporarily and subject to conditions in June.