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Salmonella In Chocolate - Should You be Worried?
Blog / Health and Nutrition / Salmonella In Chocolate - Should You be Worried?

Salmonella In Chocolate - Should You be Worried?

You may have recently heard a lot of news on the TV and the press about Salmonella found in some chocolate products.

Although instances of salmonella contamination in chocolate are rare, there have been notable outbreaks in the past.

In April 2022, a significant product recall occurred when Salmonella was found in chocolate products primarily targeted at children.

This led to the recall of more than 180 chocolate products globally and also caused 300 individuals to become sick.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that makes people ill.

People can get infected with Salmonella from various different sources, including:

  • The consumption of contaminated food (such as raw/uncooked meat) or drinking some contaminated water.
  • Coming into contact with infected animals, faeces, or their environment.

But how does it get into chocolate, and should you be worried about it?

How Does Salmonella End Up In Chocolate?

Chocolate is a natural product derived from trees, and surprisingly, it is actually a fruit.

Cocoa pods are harvested and crushed to extract the cocoa pulp and beans.

These beans and pulp are then dried outdoors, typically on the ground, and covered with banana leaves.

The bean shells can become contaminated with animal faeces as wild animals can freely roam over them.

However, during the chocolate-making process, the beans are subjected to high heat when roasted, which should eliminate any bacteria present.

Another potential source of Salmonella contamination in chocolate is the use of harmful ingredients, such as spoiled or expired milk.

Can You See Salmonella In Chocolate?

No, there is no way to see the salmonella bacteria with the naked eye. Instead, you would need to use a microscope to see the tiny bacteria.

Salmonella also doesn’t taint or make the chocolate smell or look strange.

What Does Salmonella Look Like On Chocolate?

It is not possible to see the salmonella bacteria with the naked eye.

Chocolate that is infected would with Salmonella looks just the same as any other chocolate.

What is a Safe Way to Buy Chocolate?

To put your mind at ease, chocolate rarely gets contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella. So, don’t worry too much!

The vast majority of confectionery manufacturers adhere to strict guidelines to guarantee the quality and safety of their products for consumers.

Good manufacturing processes and food safety guidelines are well established to ensure the chocolate is safe.

At Whitakers Chocolates, we work to strict food standards and are proud to have been awarded the BRC AA* grade accreditation (click here for proof) for how we run our chocolate factory.

The BRC (British Retail Consortium) sets a specific standard that we must meet for better food safety and the control of food products.

As you would expect, we also regularly check and test our products on the production line.

Our responsibility is to eradicate or identify pathogens, like Salmonella, during the manufacturing process, ensuring that our products are safe for consumption before they reach you.

We do everything we can to ensure our beautiful chocolates reach you in the condition they should - to be 100% safely enjoyed!

So if you want to buy chocolate with confidence, buy Whitakers.

(You might also enjoy reading this short blog post looking at the question - where does chocolate originate?)

What Happened at the Barry Callebaut Factory?

Barry Callebaut is one of the world’s largest chocolate producers.

They have factories all over the world. Last year they faced one of their worst fears - a salmonella outbreak.

The contaminated chocolate was found in their largest factory based in Belgium.

Production at the factory was immediately stopped, and customers were informed.

An investigation was started, and the factory plant underwent a massive clean-down operation that took a few months.

This was understandably a major issue for the chocolate manufacturer and its customers.

To put this into some kind of scale.

Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to many companies in the food industry, including industry giants such as Hershey, Mondelēz, Nestlé and Unilever.

The global leader in the chocolate industry recorded annual sales of 2.2 million tonnes during the 2020-21 financial year.

Unfortunately, the Salmonella scare occurred just a few weeks after a separate incident in which chocolates were contaminated with Salmonella in the Ferrero factory in Arlon, southern Belgium, known for producing Kinder chocolates

Is Chocolate Made in the UK Safe?

It’s 100% safe to eat chocolate made in the UK.

In fact, it’s probably the safest chocolate in the world due to the strict food and hygiene laws set by our government.

Most chocolate manufacturers, including Whitakers Chocolates, are regularly audited to ensure the highest food safety is being followed.

A little tip - you can check out what BRC accreditation food/chocolate manufacturers have been awarded.

This will give you a clear indication of how seriously they take food safety.

BRC AA* is the highest grade a company can receive - it’s like the gold star in food production!

The British chocolate market is experiencing a growing emphasis on ethical consumption, with a rising number of consumers seeking chocolate made from fairly traded and organic cocoa sources.

Again, here at Whitakers take a sustainable approach to chocolate manufacturing and are proud to offer Fairtrade options to our customers.

Final Notes On Salmonella In Chocolate

Although it might seem that the risk of Salmonella in chocolate is high due to the outbreaks seen last year, they are still small in theory.

As a nation of chocolate enthusiasts, we consume a significant amount of chocolate – approximately 660,900 tonnes annually, averaging about 11 kg per person each year.

This equates to about 3 bars a week!

My advice would always be to buy your chocolates from a reputable manufacturer, know where your chocolate is coming from and make sure you are happy with the standard of food safety and hygiene.

At Whitakers Chocolates, we are proud of our long-standing heritage in chocolate making.

We’re proud to continue making fine British chocolates in our state-of-the-art, BRC AA* graded factory in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.