Update on May 4, 2022 on the grouped cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome and E. coli infections producing shiga-toxin and the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Nestlé Fraîch’Up range of the Buitoni® brand. Note – only a bout 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). So, the number of actually sickened is significantly higher. Jack in the Box accounted for 732 sick, 178 seriously with four deaths.
Public Health France and the National Reference Center (CNR) E. coli and its associated laboratory (Institut Pasteur, Paris, and Microbiology Laboratory of the Robert Debré Hospital, Paris), in conjunction with the Directorate General for Food, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, and in coordination with the Directorate General for Health, have been investigating since 02/10/2022 an increase in the number of cases of haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) pediatric infections and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections.
The epidemiological, microbiological and traceability investigations carried out since that date have confirmed a link between the occurrence of these grouped cases and the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Buitoni brand Fraîch’Up range contaminated with STEC bacteria. On 03/18/2022, the company proceeded with the withdrawal-recall of all the pizzas in the Fraîch’Up range, marketed since June 2021 and the authorities asked the people who hold these pizzas not to consume them and to destroy them.
The total number of HUS cases linked to the consumption of these pizzas has stabilized since the withdrawal-recall. Other reports of STEC infection are investigated as part of routine surveillance. To date, these reports are not linked to grouped cases or consumption of Fraîch’Up pizzas.
Case of SHU in France: update on 04/05/22
As of 04/05/2022, 56 confirmed cases have been identified, of which 54 are linked to STEC O26 strains, and 2 to STEC O103 strains.
These 56 cases occurred in 55 children and 1 adult, who presented symptoms between 18/01/2022 (week 3) and 05/04/2022 (week 14) (Figure 1). The epidemic peak is in week 7 (14/02 to 20/02) and week 9 (28/02 to 06/03), with 10 cases each of these weeks.
These 56 cases occurred in 12 regions of metropolitan France: Hauts-de-France (12 cases), Ile-de-France (9 cases), New Aquitaine (8 cases), Pays de la Loire (7 cases), Brittany ( 6 cases), Grand Est (3 cases), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (3 cases), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (2 cases), Occitanie (2 cases), Center Val-de-Loire (2 cases) , Bourgogne Franche-Comté (1 case) and Normandy (1 case) (Figure 2).
The 55 sick children are aged from 1 to 17 years with a median age of 6 years; 25 (45%) are female; 48 (87%) presented with HUS, 7 (13%) with STEC gastroenteritis. Two children died. The adult did not present with HUS.
Figure 1: Epidemic curve: number of confirmed cases of HUS and STEC infections, by week of onset of symptoms – metropolitan France, weeks 3 to 14, 2022 (N=54: week of onset of symptoms not specified for 2 cases )
Figure 2: Geographical distribution of confirmed cases of HUS and STEC infections (N=56) linked to the consumption of Buitoni® brand Fraîch’Up pizzas, by region of residence in metropolitan France, weeks 3 to 14, 2022
The epidemiological, microbiological and traceability investigations carried out since that date have confirmed a link between the occurrence of these grouped cases and the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Buitoni brand Fraîch’Up range contaminated with STEC bacteria.
The total number of cases of HUS linked to the consumption of these pizzas seems to have stabilized since the withdrawal-recall.
French prosecutors have searched a Buitoni frozen pizza factory in northern France, the suspected source of an E. coli outbreak, as well as the headquarters of its owner Nestle France.
An investigation into involuntary manslaughter and deceitful practices was opened on 1 April.
The search at the Caudry factory operated by Buitoni, which is owned by the Swiss food conglomerate Nestle, was confirmed by a police source and the Paris prosecutor’s office, which is leading the investigation.
Nestle France, whose headquarters outside Paris were also raided, announced a recall of the affected Fraich’UP pizzas on March 18, and authorities ordered a halt of their production at Caudry after carrying out two hygiene inspections. The inspections “revealed a deterioration of food hygiene controls”, the presence of “rodents” and “insufficient measures to prevent pests from contaminating a food production site.”
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $800 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.