Following inspections of the Caudry Buitoni frozen pizza factory in northern France, French prosecutors found “a deterioration of food hygiene controls,” the presence of “rodents,” and “insufficient measures to prevent pests from contaminating a food production site.”
The French authorities have confirmed epidemiological, microbiological, and traceability work found a connection with Buitoni brand Fraîch’Up pizza and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections that have left dozens of children sick and may have caused two deaths. An investigation into involuntary manslaughter and deceitful practices has been opened.
Pizzas sold since June 2021 were withdrawn and recalled in mid-March after Nestlé was told about the presence of E. coli O26 in dough used to make them. Consumers who purchased frozen pizzas with expiration dates from June 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 have been advised to throw them away. A recall has also been issued in Slovenia, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
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Santé publique France; the Directorate General for Food; the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption, and the Repression of Fraud; and the Directorate General for Health are analyzing all cases of pediatric hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) reported in 2022, since this type of kidney failure is associated with E. coli infections that can result in lifelong, serious health problems and death.
According to a company statement, “First of all, we would like to show our support to the families affected. This situation is all the more intolerable to us as children are concerned. The quality and safety of our products is and will remain our first priority. To date, the origin of the bacteria in the Fraîch’Up pizza remains undetermined.
“We are surrounding ourselves with all the necessary experts, internal and external. Production will not restart until the cause of this contamination has been identified so that the necessary corrective measures can be taken.”