IThe restart of Ferrero’s factory in Arlon, which has been closed since April 8 and which the company had expected on June 13, has been delayed for a few days. “We need a little extra time”, recognizes the management on Friday, while, from a union source, we talk about the last week of June for a relaunch of operations.
In April, a link was established between people who fell ill after consuming various Kinder chocolate products and the Ferrero factory in Arlon. According to the latest count by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 266 confirmed and 58 probable cases have been detected in 13 countries. In Belgium alone, 62 cases of salmonellosis are linked to this epidemic, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (Afsca) reported in mid-May.
The company was forced to close on April 8 following this bacterial accident that affected several Kinder eggs and chocolate candies. Afsca collected all Kinder products manufactured there and withdrew its production authorization from this location.
In early May, we learned that the Federal Agency would present its decision on the resumption of production within 30 days of the presentation by the Arlon site management of a recovery plan. This provides for “significant interventions” and “an enhanced security protocol” and has since been reviewed with Afsca. The possible green light – which was not scheduled for June 3, but much later, we said on Friday at Afsca – will, however, focus only on production and not marketing, and will cover a period of three months.
Hope for a June 13 recovery swept
The Ferrero factory wanted to restart production on June 13. This is the first possible recovery date that was mentioned a few weeks ago, explains his administration. However, it looks like a “little additional time” is needed, confides website spokesperson Laurence Evrard.
“We are still working with Afsca”, he explains, referring to the work being done in a “constructive” and “in-depth” way. The cleaning of production lines is still in progress, as is the review of protocols. It will then be necessary to reassemble all the production lines and then run them empty, before injecting the raw materials. “We want everything to be perfect when we restart,” says the spokesperson.
“Ferrero has all the keys in hand”
“Ferrero has all the keys in his hand”, we communicated Friday alongside Afsca. The company “is currently carrying out the necessary work to restart the plant. The current priority is on the quality and depth of the work carried out by Ferrero around its self-control, quality and production processes, and this in close collaboration with Afsca.”
On the union side, it is confirmed that the date of June 13 is no longer relevant. “In our last management meeting, there was talk of a restart during the last week of June,” slips Sylviane Arnould of CSC Food and Services. She is concerned about the employment impact this delay will have when the maintenance of workers’ pay is negotiated through June 12. Most of them are currently active on site and involved in cleanup operations. But some, who cannot participate, are still paid to stay at home, worries the union leader. She also thinks of seasonal workers, who are waiting.
According to Ferrero’s website, the Arlon factory, which opened in 1989, employs 725 people, “a number that could rise to 1,100 during peak season periods”.
The Luxembourg Public Prosecutor’s Office also opened a judicial investigation against Ferrero.