The president of Nestlé said he wanted to go “to the bottom” of the question concerning Buitoni Fraich’Up pizzas to understand the origin of the contamination with E. Coli bacteria that occurred in the Caudry factory (North).
A little over six months after the health scandal that splattered the brand, the president of Nestlé said he wanted to go “to the bottom” of the question concerning Buitoni Fraich’Up pizzas. During an interview on Tuesday with the Swiss television channel RTShe said he wanted to understand what had happened at the Caudry factory (North).
“The quality and safety of our products” are Nestlé’s “first priority”, said Paul Bulcke, the former chief executive, and chairman of the group since 2017. “What happened […] invites us to go to the bottom and to have the answers”, added the president of the Swiss group, affirming that there is “no compromise” possible on security issues.
Serious cases of contamination by E. Coli bacteria
The Caudry factory is at the heart of one of the worst health scandals in recent years in France. On March 18, Nestlé had closed two production lines and the prefecture had banned all activity there, the health authorities having 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.
“It upset us as much as everyone else”, explained the president of Nestlé during this interview.
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” in an interview published in Le Figaro. A judicial investigation was opened in mid-May, in particular for manslaughter against one person and involuntary injuries concerning 14 others.
Suspected flour contamination
Nestlé France said it had taken more than 2,000 samples and had not detected any bacteria on the production lines and their environment (walls, grids, etc.). On the other hand, the company had detected the bacterium on frozen pizzas produced between October 2021 and February 16, 2022. According to internal analyzes carried out by the company, “the most probable hypothesis” is that of “contamination flour by the bacterium E.coli STEC”, of the same type as that found in the pizzas at the origin of the contaminations.
Other possible causes have also been put forward, such as cleaning and hygiene conditions, after several warnings in the past and accusatory testimonies from employees. Inspections by health authorities for several years had reported “the presence of rodents” and the “lack of maintenance and cleaning of manufacturing, storage and passage areas” in the factory.