A young child became the sickest she'd been in her life after consuming a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg contaminated with salmonella, according to her mother.
It follows an international recall of Kinder chocolate by confectionery giant Ferrero after the products were linked to salmonella contamination at a factory in Belgium. New Zealand has been included in the recall, which was expanded on Tuesday to include additional products.
In Britain, mother Charlotte Wingfield has now claimed her three-year-old daughter Brooklyn-Mai had never been "so poorly" in her life after eating the affected chocolate last week.
In a post to Facebook that has since been shared more than a thousand times, Wingfield said her daughter looked "dead behind the eyes" and suffered a fever after falling ill with food poisoning.
The mother also claimed Brooklyn-Mai's illness has since been confirmed as a salmonella infection, which she contracted from the contaminated Kinder chocolate.
According to local media, a spokesperson said the company is "very sorry to hear about Brooklyn-Mai" and its "sincere thoughts are with her and her family at the time".
In her post, Wingfield said her "usually fiery, adventurous and very active baby girl" became "lifeless" after being struck down with the severe case of food poisoning last week.
"It's been absolutely heartbreaking to see my… baby girl be the complete opposite of everything she usually is," she said.
The mother also urged others to discard the chocolate treats immediately if they are affected by the recall.
The Kinder-branded chocolates being recalled from British supermarkets and retailers differ to those affected in New Zealand. In the UK, the classic Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs are among those potentially exposed to the bacteria. However, in Aotearoa, the possibly contaminated treats are limited to the the 100g Kinder Surprise Maxi Eggs (White, Natoons, Frozen, Christmas and Miraculous Range), all sizes of Kinder Mini Eggs Hazelnut, 190g Kinder Happy Moments Ballotin and 133g Kinder Maxi Mix with a plush toy.
In her post, Wingfield explained that she recovered from a stomach bug shortly before her daughter fell ill and assumed she had contracted the same illness.
However, she became more concerned when Brooklyn-Mai slept for "21 out of the following 24 hours" and appeared utterly exhausted.
"I knew something wasn't right and spoke to the GP who ran through a list of what it could be alongside a hospital visit. I came away thinking she had a viral bug," Wingfield said.
"Fast-forward three days and it's been confirmed she has salmonella from the Kinder chocolate she ate on Sunday."
Brooklyn-Mai has been ill "a couple of times but this has been something else", she added, describing her daughter as "completely dead behind the eyes and so lifeless".
According to reports, a UK-wide investigation established a link between reported cases of salmonella and products manufactured by Ferrero in a Belgian factory, located in the city of Arlon.
On Saturday (local time), Belgium's food regulator, AFSCA, ordered the factory to close after the company was unable to provide documents needed for its separate investigation.
The regulator said the factory can only open if it is able to comply with food safety regulations.
As reported by the Daily Mail, a Ferrero spokesperson responded to Brooklyn-Mai's illness by saying the company "deeply regrets" the situation.
"We continue to work closely with the food safety authorities to support their investigations. Food safety, quality and consumer care have been at the heart of Ferrero since the company was founded.
"We are taking every step necessary to preserve the full trust and confidence of our consumers."
Salmonella - food poisoning caused by salmonella bacteria - is rarely serious and usually resolves within a week.
People contract the illness after eating contaminated food - typically food that has not been cooked or stored properly, left out of the fridge for too long, or handled by someone who is ill or has not washed their hands.
Symptoms typically include diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, a fever and general malaise. Signs of the illness usually can begin a few hours to a few weeks after eating the affected food.