Death of two French children linked to frozen pizza also sold in Belgium

Death of two French children linked to frozen pizza also sold in Belgium
Frozen pizza. Credit: Maïthé Chini/ The Brussels Times

French health authorities have recently established a link between the deaths of two children with E. coli and the frozen pizzas made by the Buitoni brand, owned by Nestlé.

The contaminated pizzas have led to 75 cases of serious poisoning. Now, there are worries that cases may appear in Belgium.

The affected children were aged between 1 and 18-years-old. E.coli poisoning is particularly acute in children. Contamination with the bacteria often leads to kidney failure and other serious internal damage.

French researchers from the French General Directorate of Health stated that a spike in cases in France was directly linked to the consumption of “Fraîch'Up” frozen pizzas made by the Buitoni brand. A huge recall of the pizzas in France is currently underway.

“Today, we do not understand how this was able to happen,” said Nestlé Industrial Director-General Jérôme Jaton at a press conference on March 30, “but we will develop an investigation that we will submit to the authorities.”

The French manufacturer has halted production of its frozen food at one of its factories in Caudry in northern France. Nestlé is exploring what caused the contamination, which may have come from the dough, or even from one of the 9 different types of toppings.

Belgium remains vigilant

In Belgium, a spokesperson Federal Agency for Food Chain Security (AFSCA), in a comment to Belgian publication RTL, said that they were not particularly concerned that the serious infections could spread to Belgium.

“In Belgium, there aren’t any signs of any cases linked with the contamination declared in France."

Despite not having recorded any examples of serious poisoning, the manufacturer’s actions have protected Belgian consumers, according to AFSCA.

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The massive recall of the pizzas launched on 21 March has prevented the products from ending up in Belgian freezers and the authorities are actively monitoring for any potential contamination.

If suspected to have consumed the pizzas, Belgians should look out for symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, blood in the urine, and abdominal pain. If present, seek medical help. The French General Directorate of Health states that if no symptoms appear within 15 days after consumption, then there is no need to seek help.

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