Olive oil, chocolate: here are the products being recalled in Spain

The Spanish food agency has issued alerts due to a cluster of salmonella and reports of adulterated olive oil. Here's what you need to know.

Olive oil, chocolate: here are the products being recalled in Spain
Olives are pictured in Antequera on October 9, 2019. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Spanish residents were asked to check their cabinets at the weekend as the country’s food safety agency Aesan issued two warnings regarding chocolate products and olive oil.

So, what is going on?

First, Aesan issued an alert about the processing, packaging, and clandestine distribution of oil labelled as “virgin olive” and “extra virgin olive” from Spain, which is in fact vegetable oil made from seeds or a mixture of grains.

The alert came after the agency received a notification from the health authorities of the Region of Murcia.

READ ALSO: Ten ingredients you should NEVER have in a real Spanish paella

You can find a list of the affected products here.

According to the available information, the initial distribution of the products has been mainly in the region of Murcia. However, it has also been distributed to Catalonia, the Basque Country and the Valencian Community.

Authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that the oil has been distributed to other regions.

As a precautionary measure, Aesan recommends that people who have bought the suspect products refrain from consuming them and return them to the points of sale.

The Ferrero chocolate recall

A broader issue that has also affected other European countries just ahead of Easter is the announcement by chocolate manufacturer Ferrero that it is recalling several types of sweets due to the identification of cases of salmonella, including in children.

READ ALSO: How Spain invented modern chocolate – and kept it secret for 100 years

The company issues the recall for chocolates in its Kinder brand including Schokobons, Kinder Überraschung, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Mix, and Kinder Maxi Mix, which are all in the list of products recalled. You can see a complete list here.

An cluster of salmonella cases sounded the alarm bells at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Early this week, 134 cases had been reported, mainly among children under 10 years of age.

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

Ferrero, the Italian chocolate producer that owns brands like Nutella, Kinder, and Ferrero Rocher, said it has identified a genotype match between reported salmonella cases in Europe and its plant in Arlon, Belgium. Production in that factory has since been shut down.

The company identified a filter in a raw material tank at the factory as being culpable and is currently investigating the case.

READ ALSO: Spain to ban sugary food and drink ads targeting kids

“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 stated.

Consumers should avoid any of the products mentioned and can return them at any point of sale, according to the food safety authorities.

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024: What you need to know about Spain’s new suicide prevention hotline 

Spain has launched a 24-hour phoneline for people with suicidal thoughts and their families as part of a €100-million plan to improve mental health provision in the country, where an average of 11 people take their own lives every day. 

024: What you need to know about Spain's new suicide prevention hotline 

Spain’s Ministry of Health launches on Tuesday May 10th 2022 a specialised hotline under the motto “Llama a la vida”  (Call to life).

People experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviour as well as their relatives will be able to dial 024, available 24 hours a day for every day of year, a service that’s free of charge and completely confidential.

Fátima Caballero, Red Cross health director and who will manage the suicide prevention line, has said that a team of “qualified and multidisciplinary” professionals will “will provide response, prevention and emotional support” to people who are thinking about taking their own lives, are trying to do so, and assist their families.

According Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias, the team behind the suicide prevention line will speak several languages, without specifying if this includes English.

“(Suicide) is a threat that has been silenced for too long,” Darias said, stressing that calling 024 will be an option for people with disabilities in Spain.

Suicide is the main unnatural cause of death in Spain, with 3,941 cases accounted for in 2020 (no official data for 2021 yet), which represented the highest number on record and a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2019. 

That means that on average 11 people take their own lives every day in Spain.

The suicide prevention scheme is part of a €100-million package announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez last October to finance mental health provisions in Spain, as the public health sector has been struggling to cope with rising demand for mental health services during the pandemic.

The funds will go to training professionals, fighting stigmatisation, ensuring early detection, preventing suicide and promoting emotional wellbeing.

EXPLAINED: Spain’s new €100 million mental health plan

Regarding the suicide prevention hotline, Spain is following the example of other European countries that offer anyone who has thoughts of taking their own life the chance of having professional help, someone who listens to them and if necessary activates a response in coordination with the emergency services.

For Health Minister Darias the hotline is “a measure that will help many people” and serve to “end stigmas and taboos” around suicide.

The OECD has warned of the Covid-19 pandemic’s significant and unprecedented impact on mental health, the impact of which is still not yet fully understood.

Statistics show that 5.8 percent of the Spanish population has anxiety, and a similar percentage suffer from depression. On top of that, at least 1 million Spaniards have a “serious mental health disorder” and only half receive treatment.

“10.8 percent of Spaniards have consumed tranquillisers, relaxants or sleeping pills,” Sánchez tweeted last October. “This says a lot about the problem we have in our society with mental health. We cannot normalise it. We must respond to this issue and analyse its causes and origins.”

READ ALSO: How to find an English-speaking therapist in Spain