After completing its internal investigation, Nestlé France is preparing with the authorities the reopening of its northern site, which has been shut down since mid-March, after a violent health scandal.
Six months after the health scandal linked to the consumption of Fraîch’Up pizzas from the Buitoni brand contaminated with E.Coli bacteria, which caused the death of two children and dozens of poisonings, the future of the Buitoni site in Caudry producing the offending products clears up a bit.
While Nestlé France, owner of the brand, has reached the end of its internal investigation on the site to try to determine the causes of the contamination – an investigation involving more than 2000 samples under the control of a bailiff, on the environment of the plant, raw materials, silos and finished products – the group confirms “the most likely hypothesis of flour contamination by the E.coli STEC bacterium“, According to a spokesperson to AFP.
Nestlé France specifies that it has detected this bacterium on the flour used for the dough, but not on the production lines or their environment (walls, grids, etc.). The group has also found E.Coli STEC on finished products, i.e. frozen pizzas produced between October 2021 and February 16, 2022.
While a restart protocol for the Caudry site is in progress and should allow, “subject to the agreement of the authorities, a reopening next November“, This will only concern one of the two lines of the northern site, specifies Nestlé. Either the one that did not produce the incriminated Fraîch’Up range.
Activity at half mast
By the expected reopening of the factory, and faced with activity that will remain at half mast, the group will therefore put in place a voluntary departure plan. This should involve 50 to 80 positions, or up to 40% of Caudry’s workforce.
Hit hard by this health tragedy, the brand of the Nestlé group had seen its market share on the pizza aisle collapse from 30 to 7% in a few weeks. Following this case, a judicial investigation was opened in mid-May, in particular for involuntary homicide against a person, involuntary injuries concerning 14 people, placing on the market of a product dangerous to health and placing in danger from others.