French authorities launch probe into Ferrero salmonella outbreak
A preliminary investigation was opened here on Thursday following complaints alleging salmonella poisoning in children who had consumed Kinder chocolates produced by Ferrero, the Italian confectionery giant, the Paris Prosecutor's Office said on Thursday.
The investigation was opened on the counts of "involuntary attacks on physical integrity" and "endangering the lives of others," the French daily Le Figaro reported, citing the Prosecutor's Office.
A formal complaint was filed on May 19 by the consumer organization Foodwatch based on several reports from the families of victims.
The authorities in Belgium have also been investigating the Ferrero group and its Kinder chocolates since April 11.
A factory in Arlon in southeast Belgium that produces the entire range of Kinder chocolates has now been closed indefinitely, Le Figaro said.
The Ferrero group is suspected of delaying alerts to the authorities and failing to recall its products when salmonella was first detected in the Arlon factory on Dec. 15, 2021.
According to Ferrero, the contamination was likely caused by a faulty filter in a dairy butter tank.
On June 2, the French public health agency reported 118 cases of salmonellosis in the country. The average age of the victims was four. The infections were allegedly caused by Kinder chocolates produced in Arlon.
According to the agency, 22 people were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.