Answers, and fast. The president of Nestlé showed his determination to shed light on the operation of the Caudry factory (North), after the Buitoni Fraich’Up pizza scandal, during an interview on Tuesday with the Swiss television channel RTS.
“The quality and safety of our products” is Nestlé’s “first priority”, said Paul Bulcke, group president since 2017. “What happened […] invites us to get to the bottom and get the answers,” he added, saying there is “no compromise” possible on security issues.
Criminal investigation for manslaughter
On March 18, Nestlé closed two production lines at the Caudry factory and the prefecture banned all activity there. The health authorities had indeed established a link between the consumption of Fraich’Up pizzas and several serious cases of contamination by the bacterium Escherichia coli.
These pizzas are suspected of having caused the death of two children and the poisoning of dozens of others. In July, the boss of Nestlé France, Christophe Cornu, presented his “apologies” to the families of the children affected and announced the creation of a “victim support fund”. A judicial investigation was opened in mid-May, in particular for manslaughter against one person and involuntary injuries concerning 14 others.
According to internal analyzes carried out by the company, “the most probable hypothesis” is that “of contamination of the flour by the bacterium E. coli STEC”, of the same type as that found in the pizzas originally contamination. Other possible causes have been put forward, such as cleaning and hygiene conditions, after several warnings in the past and accusing testimonies from employees.