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HEALTH

Switzerland: What you need to know about the Ferrero product recall

The Italian candy manufacturer has announced a large recall of some of its products in several countries due to salmonella contamination. Here's what you need to know as Switzerland announces its first cases.

kinder chocolate products

The chocolate producer Ferrero, which owns brands like Nutella, Kinder, and Ferrero Rocher, announced a widespread recall of some of its products due to salmonella.

The news was received with concern by consumers, mainly since the recall focused on selected Kinder batches – most of them marketed to children, and due to the close proximity of Easter. Several of the recalled products are ‘Easter Eggs’. 

The Swiss food safety agency announced on Thursday that around 40 products would be recalled.

And many Swiss retailers had already removed Ferrero’s ‘children’s’ products from their shelves, including major distributors Coop, Migros, Volg and Aldi, the Keystone-SDA news agency confirmed.

Ferrero said that none of its products in Switzerland had tested positive for the bacteria, but they would voluntarily recall some of its products as a precaution.

Here’s what you need to know about the case.

Which products were recalled?

Several Kinder batches of Kinder Schokobons, Kinder Überraschung, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Mix, and Kinder Maxi Mix are in the list of products recalled. You can see a complete list here.

The company and health authorities advise people not to consume any of these products. If you have them at home, certain supermarket chains have already announced that they can be returned for a refund without the need for proof of purchase.

SEE ALSO: When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2022?

What is salmonella?

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause an illness called salmonellosis. The symptoms are usually diarrhoea, fever, and stomach cramps. They start from six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

In the European Union, over 91,000 cases are reported each year. Most people will recover within a few days without antibiotics, but treatment, and hospitalisation, could be needed in some cases.

The bacteria can spread to humans through contaminated foods. It is most frequently found in eggs and raw meat from pigs, turkeys, and chickens.

Safe handling of these products can prevent or reduce the risk posed by contaminated food.

What happened to cause the recall?

An outbreak of salmonella cases called the attention of the EFSA. Early this week, 134 cases had been reported, mainly among children under 10 years old.

The authorities tracked the origin of the infections to “specific chocolate products“.

The authorities launched product recalls in several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the UK, while Ferrero is organising recalls in countries like Austria.

According to data from April 6th, there have been no confirmed or probable cases in Austria. Belgium has 26 potential cases, France has 20 confirmed cases, and Germany has four confirmed and three probable cases.

Have there been cases in Switzerland?

Yes, Switzerland announced its first cases on Friday, April 15th.

However, a link between these salmonella cases and Ferrero’s products had not yet been proven and was currently being investigated, Switzerland’s Food Safety Agency said on Friday, as reported by Swiss news website Watson.

Around two dozen cases were being examined more closely, it said.

Where did it all begin?

Ferrero said it has identified a genotype match between reported salmonella cases in Europe and its plant in Arlon, Belgium.

The company identified the point of origin as a filter at the outlet of two raw material tanks and is currently investigating the case.

“Ferrero took actions, including the removal of the filter, and significantly increased the already high level of controls on semi-finished and finished products”, the manufacturer added.

SEE ALSO: Easter holidays: What to expect if you’re coming to Switzerland

What should I do now?

Check if you have any of the recalled products and take them back to the supermarket. If you or your family members show any symptoms of the disease, get in touch with your doctor for further information.

Most people recover from a salmonella infection in up to a week and should drink extra fluids in the meantime, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Useful vocabulary

Rückruf – recall
SalmonellenErkrankungen – Salmonella sickness
Betroffene Produkten – affected products
Kunden – clients/customers

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: Anti-abortion activists in Switzerland are just posturing with latest hollow move

As women’s reproductive rights are on the verge of being drastically eroded in the United States, Switzerland is witnessing the launch of two parallel popular initiatives seeking to restrict access to abortion here, writes Clare O'Dea.

OPINION: Anti-abortion activists in Switzerland are just posturing with latest hollow move

This is pure posturing by anti-abortion activists. It is obvious they can’t win the popular vote – the last time there was a vote on abortion in 2014, 80 per cent voted to leave the current regime unchanged – but Swiss campaigners still want to remind the public of their dissent. 

If they hurt women along the way, perhaps that’s acceptable collateral damage for them. Or perhaps that’s the whole point. The initiatives were launched together in December 2021 and the signature gathering deadline is in June 2023.   

All these campaigners achieve by dragging abortion onto the public agenda is piling additional stress and guilt on women who are going through a personal, in some cases heartbreaking, healthcare dilemma. Perhaps the rationale is that this extra pressure would have a deterrent effect. 

Switzerland was one of the first European countries to legislate for abortion in 1937, allowing abortion when the woman’s health was in danger. The cantons were free to decide how strictly to interpret the law and this led to a patchwork of abortion services across the country. 

Women ended up needing to travel inside the country to access abortion right up to 2002 when voters accepted the new abortion law allowing unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law set conditions for abortions after this point. 

Reader question: Is abortion legal in Switzerland?

The first of the two initiatives is the ‘Save viable babies’ campaign to stop late-term abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. This would apply to pregnancies from 22 weeks gestation where the foetus could potentially survive outside the womb with medical support. 

The second one is the blandly named ‘Sleep on it’ initiative, seeking to impose a one-day waiting period before allowing women and girls to access abortion treatment. Both sets of signatures are being collected together “for synergy reasons”. 

Three Swiss People’s Party (SVP) parliamentarians are behind the campaigns, including two women, Andrea Geissbühler and Yvette Estermann. They got nowhere in parliament with similar proposals which is why they are taking them to the people. No political party supports either initiative. 

Of the total of some 11,000 pregnancy terminations performed in Switzerland each year, approximately 95 per cent are carried out by the 12th week in accordance with the so-called time-limit regulations. 

Only a very small proportion of all terminations take place at an advanced stage of pregnancy. Some 150 terminations per year are performed after the 17th week of pregnancy. The ‘Save viable babies’ campaign is targeting pregnancies terminated from 22 weeks gestation onwards. There are an estimated 40 such cases per year. 

Just to be clear, the campaign wants the whole country to vote on the fate of 40 women per year going through a terrible personal crisis along with their distressed families. 

OPINION: Switzerland’s denial of voting rights to foreigners motivated by fear

The Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics published an opinion on the practice of late termination of pregnancy in 2018. Here’s what they had to say about these 40 cases annually. 

“The reasons and circumstances underlying advanced pregnancy termination are many and varied. Almost always, the women concerned find themselves in a situation beyond their control, posing a moral dilemma. The need for a decision, and the consequences thereof, can have a lasting impact on the women and their families. Accordingly, the primary ethical principle is that all options need to be jointly considered, with empathetic and careful support being provided for the people concerned.”

Those options include what is called palliative birth for babies with serious conditions who will die at birth or shortly afterwards. 

Guess what, collecting signatures for 18 months for a popular initiative banning late term abortions is the opposite of empathetic support. It exacerbates the suffering involved. But this is a mindset where nothing is more important than the life of the foetus, least of all the parents’ suffering. 

The number of abortions carried out in advanced pregnancy has remained virtually unchanged over the last ten years. Forty out of 11,000 is not very many, but the fact that these situations arise every year represents a sad fact of life. 

EXPLAINED: What happened after Swiss women got the right to vote in 1971?

Meanwhile the ‘Sleep on it’ initiative seeks to introduce a one-day wait between contacting a doctor and receiving the treatment. In three-quarters of cases this means a prescription for abortion pills. 

The one-day wait seems like a spurious and hollow demand. It is normal to think before you go to the doctor for any procedure. I have no doubt that when a woman asks a doctor for an abortion, she has already thought about it – for days if not weeks. She doesn’t need to go through an extra sleepless night to satisfy anyone.   

We know that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is either to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies – through information and services – or to significantly improve the material situation of women, for example income, housing, safety or job security. These factors already contribute to Switzerland’s low abortion rate

But the anti-abortion activists famously concentrate on the least effective tool – banning abortion or making access difficult. 

As an Irish citizen born in the 1970s, I came of age in a country that enshrined the right to life of the unborn in the constitution in 1983, which is what the ‘Save viable babies’ initiative seeks to do. That constitutional ban took a terrible toll on Irish women and girls for 35 years until it was repealed.  

This constitutional ban affected not only abortion services but maternal care in Ireland, with unnecessary suffering and risks imposed on miscarrying women by doctors afraid of breaking the law, as is now being seen in Poland.  

What we know about Swiss abortion is that it is safe, legal and rare. In an imperfect world, this is as good as it gets, no matter what the purists say.

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