Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut halted production at its plant in Wieze, Belgium, on Monday, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The Wieze plant is the largest chocolate factory in the world, according to the government tourism website Visit Flanders.
“For Barry Callebaut, food safety is paramount. Our robust food safety programs allowed us to quickly identify lecithin as the source of the contamination,” the company said in the statement, adding that the Belgian food authorities (FAVV) were informed of the incident. .
Lecithin is a fatty substance used to bind other ingredients in chocolate.
The company said it has taken precautionary measures, including recalling all products made since the time of the test. Production at Wieze will remain suspended until further notice.
“We are currently reaching out to all customers who may have received affected products,” the statement said.
In a statement on Friday, Barry Callebaut said that no contaminated chocolate had “entered the retail food chain”.
The company, which had nearly $8 billion in sales during the 2020-21 fiscal year, produces chocolate for other chocolate makers, including small chocolatiers and big brands, though it declined to provide the names of its customers when asked by CNN Business.
“Barry Callebaut will now take the time to continue very diligent root cause analysis, keeping the FAVV informed in the process. When complete, the lines will be cleaned and sanitized before resuming the production process,” the company said.
— Anna Cooban contributed reporting.