Nestlé has announced that it is facing criminal charges regarding a 2022 E. coli outbreak in France that was traced to pizzas.

The judges leading the case filed charges against Nestlé France and Société des Produits Alimentaires de Caudry (SPAC), a subsidiary of the company, this past week.

The criminal investigation is ongoing, and no judgment has been reached.

A total of 56 confirmed and two probable cases with a median age of 6 were sick in the outbreak between mid-January and April 2022 because of contaminated frozen Buitoni Fraîch’Up pizzas. It was the largest E. coli-HUS outbreak ever documented in France. 

There were 50 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), two children died, and two others had severe complications. HUS is a type of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections that can result in serious health problems.

Patients tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O26:H11 or O103:H2. According to Santé publique France, the country’s public health agency, only two people were sick with E. coli O103. 

STEC O26:H11 and O103:H2 outbreak strains were isolated from pizzas sampled in patients’ homes and at the manufacturing plant.

Nestlé France agreed to a compensation package this past year for some of those affected in the incident. The amount was not made public.

In March 2023, Nestlé decided to shut down the plant in Caudry, France, that was involved in the E. coli outbreak. In February 2024, frozen pizza producer Italpizza acquired the factory.

Italpizza said it would allocate more than €12 million ($13 million) of investment for the site’s modernization and revitalization from 2024 to 2028.  

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