European health officials say they are investigating a “rapidly evolving” outbreak of salmonella linked to Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs.
In a statement on Wednesday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said chocolate products were identified “as the likely route of infection.”
As many as 134 children — mainly under the age of 10 — have suffered from salmonella, the ECDC added. The first case was detected in Britain in January ahead of Easter.
UK authorities said the Italian company Ferrero had begun recalling specific batches of Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs made in Belgium due to a “possible link” to reported salmonella cases.
Products have also been recalled “as a precautionary step” in other European countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg.
Ferrero has reiterated that no Kinder products released to the market have so far tested positive for salmonella.
The ECDC said the epidemic has been characterised “by an unusually high proportion of children being hospitalised”.
Salmonella typically causes symptoms including diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps and can lead to hospital treatment in the most severe cases.
The outbreak comes just days after French health authorities linked Nestlé’s Buitoni brand frozen pizzas to several serious cases of E.coli contamination.