STOCKHOLM — European health officials say 266 confirmed cases and 58 suspected cases of an outbreak of salmonella infection linked to chocolate Easter eggs have now been reported across Europe and North America, the vast majority in children.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said 86.3% of cases were among children aged 10 and under, and of all cases in Europe with available information, 41.3% of them were hospitalized. . No deaths have been reported.
Cases have been reported in 14 European countries, Canada, and the United States.
The European Union agency still suspects a Belgian factory. Its closure in April, global recall and removal of its products from shelves “have reduced the risk of exposure, but new cases may occur due to the long shelf life and possible storage of products at home,” the agency said. .
In early April, food authorities in several European countries said that the Italian company Ferrero recalled specific batches of Kinder chocolate products due to suspicions of a connection between the products and a salmonella outbreak.
The two outbreak strains, which are multi-drug resistant, were identified in 10 of 81 salmonella-positive samples taken at the Belgian plant in December and January, including in whey, semi-finished and finished products. The whey was provided by an Italian supplier where salmonella was not detected.
“Based on available evidence, salmonella has not been detected in other plants,” the agency said Wednesday.
The Stockholm-based agency said it continues to monitor the situation and encouraged close cooperation with food safety authorities in affected countries.