266 cases confirmed in salmonella outbreak linked to chocolate Easter eggs

European health officials said 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 in children aged 10 or younger, and for all cases in Europe for which information is available, 41.3% of them they were admitted to the hospital.

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 “has reduced the risk of exposure, but new cases may arise due to the long shelf life and possible storage of products at home”, said said the agency.

In early April, food authorities in several European countries said Italian company Ferrero had recalled specific batches of Kinder chocolate products due to suspicions of a link between the products and an outbreak of salmonella.

The two outbreak strains, both multi-resistant, were identified in 10 of 81 salmonella-positive samples taken from the Belgian factory in December and January, including buttermilk, semi-finished and finished products.

The buttermilk was supplied by an Italian supplier where salmonella was not detected.

“Based on the available evidence, salmonella has not been detected in other factories,” the agency said on Wednesday.

The Stockholm-based agency said it continued to monitor the situation and encouraged close cooperation with food safety authorities in affected countries.

Alicia R. Rucker