Buitoni Pizza. Six questions about an unprecedented epidemic after contamination with E. coli

On March 18, 2022, the Buitoni brand withdrew all its frozen pizzas from the “Fraich’Up” range, following the detection of Escherichia coli bacteria in the dough. Wednesday, March 30, Public Health France has confirmed a link He called not to consume them and destroy them. The company that manufactures the pizzas assured this Thursday that the samples in its production chain had not does not conclude on the presence of bacteria in pizzas.

If about 160 cases of hemolytic and uremic syndromes (these are notifiable diseases) are reported in France each year, this is the first time that they have been linked a priori to the contamination of pizza dough.

1. Has a link been established with Buitoni Fraich’up pizzas?

Public Health France on Wednesday confirmed a link between several severe cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children and the consumption of Buitoni Fraîch’up brand frozen pizzas. Since March 18, this range was withdrawn in store. On its site, Buitoni (Nestlé) indicates that the suspicion is related to the dough (and not the filling) of the pizzas. The two production lines at the Caudry plant (North) are stopped. According to Pierre-Alexandre Teulié, general director of communication for Nestlé France, 75 samples, “all negative” They were made on the production line. “The priority is to find the source of the contamination. »

2. What is the origin of toxic bacteria?

“These are not the Escherichia coli that we have in our intestine but E. coli from the digestive system of ruminants, which produce Shiga toxins”, says Professor François-Xavier Weill, director of the National Reference Center Escherichia Coli, Shigella and Salmonella. The first cases of human contamination in undercooked hamburger meat date back (only) to the 1980s, in the United States. Minced meat or soft (not hard) raw milk cheeses are the main vectors of poisoning, due to contamination with bovine feces.

“In recent years, the number of annual contaminations has increased from a hundred to about 160 cases, points out pediatric nephrologist Gwenaelle Roussey (CHU Nantes). Due to the predominance of a more virulent strain. »
“In France, this is the first time that we have had so many cases grouped together since the start of surveillance 25 years ago.”

3. How could bacteria contaminate pizza dough?

“Flour contamination has been described in the United States and Canada. So much so that in the United States it is specified not to eat raw cookie dough.says Professor Weill. Moisture-loving E. coli have little affinity for raw flour. While the flour was likely contaminated, the bloom likely occurred during later manufacturing phases.

4. How did the bacteria resist cooking?

If the cold (refrigerator or freezer) prevents the proliferation ofE.coli, it does not remove it. However, it is sensitive to a temperature of 70°C. “It all depends on the amount of bacteria such as cooking time and temperature, corrects Professor Weill. If the oven is not hot enough, or if the microwave is used, it could persist. »

5. How many cases so far?

The Ministry of Health launched a first alert on February 25 after the appearance of 13 cases “having similar characteristics”. To date, 75 cases of HUS have been investigated; including 41 confirmed cases. the “three quarters of the families” he had actually eaten Fraich’up pizzas. For the others, sequencing is in progress (to determine if it is the same strain) or the reference center is still waiting for samples. The average age of sick children is 8 years (but ranges from 1 to 16 years). Two of them died.

6. What to do in case of suspicion?

Any pizza from the Fraich’up range should be destroyed and not consumed, health authorities say. The company has provided a phone number for reimbursement (0800 22 32 42). People who experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, or vomiting within three to four days of consumption should see their doctor.

Buitoni Pizza. Six questions about an unprecedented epidemic after contamination with E. coli

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