Investigations into the Buitoni (Nestlé) pizza scandal, contaminated with E. coli bacteria and suspected of having caused the death of two children, were entrusted to an investigating judge on Thursday. The judicial information was opened in particular for manslaughter against a person, involuntary injuries concerning 14 people, marketing of a product dangerous to health and endangering others.
A total of 55 children and one adult have been infected, without a direct link having been established to date with the consumption of pizzas, according to health authorities. A preliminary investigation had already been underway since March 22 at the public health center of the Paris prosecutor’s office, to “deception on a product, display or sale of corrupt or falsified food products that are harmful to health, placing on the market of a product harmful to health, endangering others, involuntary injuries and involuntary homicides”.
In this context, searches took place on April 13 in the Caudry factory, in the North, where the pizzas of the Fraîch’Up range were manufactured, and at the headquarters of the Nestlé group, in the Hauts-de-Seine. .
In February, the health authorities had been alerted by the resurgence of cases of kidney failure in children, linked to contamination by Escherichia coli. On March 18, Nestlé announced the withdrawal of pizzas from the Fraîch’Up range marketed since June 2021, after being informed of the presence of the bacteria in the dough of a product.
On March 30, the health authorities announced that they had established a link between the consumption of these pizzas and several serious cases of contamination before the prefect of the Nord department banned, two days later, the production of pizzas at the Caudry site. .
Inspections there had pointed to “the presence of rodents” and the “lack of maintenance and cleaning of the manufacturing, storage and passage areas”. Shortcomings which could be the cause of the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the products then marketed.
“There are two children who died from eating pizza. […] I assure you that it is poignant”, declared Thursday on RMC and BFMTV the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, saying he was “devastated” by this “absolutely terrible human tragedy” which “should never happen” but “has not could not be avoided”.