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an investigation for “involuntary homicides” opened

The logo of the Buitoni factory in Caudry, northern France, on April 1, 2022.

A scandal and an investigation. The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Friday 1er April, having started investigations after several serious cases of contamination of children by the bacterium Escherichia coli and deaths, possibly linked to the consumption of Buitoni frozen pizzas. The opening of this investigation, in particular for “manslaughter”, “deception” and “endangering others”, was confirmed by the prosecution, two days after the health authorities announced that they had established a link between the consumption of these pizzas and serious cases of contamination.

This investigation, entrusted to the public health center (PSP) of the Paris prosecutor’s office, whose jurisdiction is national, was opened on March 22. “The PSP, on divestiture of the parquet floors of Nancy and Saint-Malo and in application of its jurisdiction in matters of offenses affecting health”seized the investigation, thus specified the parquet floor of Paris.

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Two dead children

In detail, the investigation focuses on the offenses of “cheating on goods, display or sale of corrupt or falsified food products harmful to health, marketing of a product harmful to health, endangering others, involuntary injuries and manslaughters”.

It was entrusted jointly to the central office for the fight against attacks on the environment and public health (Oclaesp), the general management of the national gendarmerie, the investigation department of the general management of competition, consumption and the repression of fraud (DGCCRF) and the national brigade for veterinary and phytosanitary investigations (BNEVP) of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the prosecution.

Since the end of February, France has experienced a resurgence of cases of haemolytic and uraemic syndromes (HUS) linked to contamination with E.coli. Public Health France had reported on Wednesday that seventy-five cases were under investigation, including forty-one for which SHU “similar” have been identified, and thirty-four for which additional analyzes are in progress.

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Sick children are aged from 1 to 18 years old. Two children have died, although the connection to the pizzas has not been confirmed in their case. The cases occurred in twelve regions of metropolitan France: Hauts-de-France (16), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (11), Pays de la Loire (10), Ile-de-France (9), Bretagne (7), Grand -East (5), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (4), Centre-Val de Loire (4), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (3), Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (2), Normandy (2) and Occitania (2).

According to several media and information obtained by AFP, complaints have been filed with several courts in France.

Two closed production lines

Analysis “confirmed a link between several cases and the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Fraîch’Up range of the Buitoni brand, contaminated with bacteria Escherichia coli »announced Wednesday in a press release the general direction of health, which depends on the government.

“We don’t understand what could have happened, but we are going to develop an analysis protocol that we will submit to the authorities”, said Jérôme Jaton, industrial general manager of Nestlé, during a press conference on Wednesday. Even before the results of the analyses, the health authorities estimated “possibly” the link between these contaminations and the pizzas in the Fraîch’Up range.

Without delay, they had launched the pizza recall on March 18, asking consumers to destroy them if they had any in their freezers.
Nestlé had closed two production lines located in Caudry (Nord), which manufacture these frozen pizzas marketed mainly in France. In this factory, seventy-five samples, “all negative”have been made, said Thursday the general manager of communication of Nestlé France, Pierre-Alexandre Teulié. “The priority is to find the cause of the contamination”he added.

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The World with AFP

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