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the costly toll for Kinder after a major health scandal

It is “the biggest product recall of the past twenty years”, admits the general manager of Ferrero France, who is speaking for the first time since the start of the health scandal which is costing the manufacturer of Kinder dearly, financially and in terms of of reputation, in an interview with the daily Le Parisien this Thursday. Since the beginning of April, more than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market in France, where 81 cases of salmonellosis have been detected, mainly in children under ten years old.

A loss of 40% of its turnover

The financial impact for the group is major. It “will be around several tens of millions of euros”, announces Nicolas Neykov, the general manager. Over the Easter period alone, a high point for the Italian manufacturer, the brand lost 40% of its usual turnover.

The brand, loved by toddlers, estimates that “60% of consumers no longer have confidence”, says the director who, launched in a reconquest campaign, wants to play the card of transparency. “According to our investigations”, the contamination would come from “a filter located in a dairy butter tank” of the Arlon factory in Belgium and would have arrived there “either by contaminated raw materials, or by people” , according to him.

Detection of salmonella from December 15

The factory in Arlon, in the Belgian Ardennes, where the Kinder products in question came from, was shut down in early April. All products produced on this site (Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi 100g and Kinder Schoko-Bons) have been recalled.

The group, criticized for not having closed this factory on December 15, the date on which salmonella was detected for the first time, is defending itself today. “On December 15 (…) we stop all the production lines, we close the factory, we throw away what has been manufactured,” he explains. “All of our tests carried out in the following days are negative, which then allows us to reopen the factory,” he adds.

The investigation is still ongoing

“At that time, we are absolutely certain that no contaminated product has been put on the market. What happened after? The investigation will tell,” said Nicolas Neykov, while Belgian justice opened a judicial investigation in April.

The general manager explains that “it was only on April 2 that the English authorities established a statistical correspondence with the consumption of Kinder surprise”, pushing the group to recall its products in Great Britain and then in France the next day.

The resumption of production estimated on June 13

The group has received more than 150,000 requests for compensation and 90% of these requests have been “satisfied” says the general manager, in the form of reduction vouchers on any food product or Kinder purchase vouchers, which represents a cost of less than two million euros for the group.

The group now wants to restart production as soon as possible and has requested the reopening of its Belgian factory from June 13. The group, which has recognized failures, announces that 50% of health checks would now be carried out by an approved external laboratory while “for now” everything is based on an internal self-checking system.

Several complaints from a consumer association

Ferrero also presented a plan on May 4 to the Belgian health authorities, 1,000 employees of the factory working seven days a week when it reopens. 10,000 parts will be dismantled and cleaned one by one,” he said.

On the judicial level, the consumer defense association Foodwatch France announced on May 19 the filing of a complaint in Paris after the contamination of Kinder chocolates. She simultaneously filed another against the Nestlé group and its range of Fraîch’Up pizzas, contaminated with the bacterium Escherichia coli.

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