As serious cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children have been observed, batches of Buitoni frozen pizzas are being recalled as a precautionary measure due to possible contamination by Escherichia Coli bacteria. Twelve French regions are concerned.
As part of the investigations carried out by the authorities on the cases of severe hemolytic uremic syndromes reported since January 1, 2022 on the national territory, the epidemiological, microbiological and traceability analyses suggest at this stage a possible link with the consumption of frozen pizzas from the Fraîch’Up range of the Buitoni brand.
Investigations are continuing to determine the origin of the contamination, including other products, as well as epidemiological investigations to establish potential links with all cases detected in the territory since early January 2022.
As a result, as a precautionary measure, and pending further analysis, Buitoni is recalling all Fraîch’Up pizzas as of today.
58 cases in 12 regions
As of March 17, 2022, 27 cases of severe HUS, or infections, linked to E. coli bacteria with similar characteristics have been identified and 31 additional cases are under investigation. These 58 cases occurred in 12 regions of metropolitan France: Hauts-de-France (13 cases), Nouvelle Aquitaine (9 cases), Pays de Loire (9 cases), Bretagne (6 cases), Île-de-France (6 cases), Grand Est (5 cases), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (3 cases), Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (2 cases), Centre Val-de-Loire (2 cases), Normandie (1 case), Occitanie (1 case), and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (1 case).
Ill children aged 1 to 18 years presented symptoms between January 10 and March 10, 2022. Two children died.
Santé publique France, in collaboration with the CNR, the Direction générale de l’Alimentation, the Direction générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes, and in coordination with the Direction générale de la Santé, is continuing investigations on all cases of pediatric HUS reported since January 1, 2022 in France.
Symptoms of HUS
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is an infectious disease, most often of food origin, which is rare in France but serious.
Each year, approximately 160 children with HUS are notified to Santé publique France, which has set up a surveillance system (nephro-pediatric services) for this disease since 1996.
In children, this syndrome is most often caused by an infection with a bacterium belonging to the E. coli family. It manifests itself within 3-4 days after infection (10 days maximum) with diarrhea, often accompanied by blood, abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting, which can develop into a severe form of the infection (HUS) in about 10% of children after about a week.
The risk of developing HUS is higher at older ages, especially in young children, who then show signs of great fatigue, pallor, a decrease in the volume of urine, which becomes darker, and sometimes convulsions. Hospital management may include blood transfusions and/or dialysis. A doctor should be consulted immediately if any of these symptoms are present.
Reminder of recommendations
E. coli responsible for HUS are present in the intestines of many ruminant animals (cows, calves, goats, sheep, fallow deer, etc.) and are eliminated through excrement which can then contaminate the environment (water, manure, soil) and food. These bacteria can be kept cold (survival in a refrigerator or freezer), but are destroyed by cooking.
The transmission of the bacteria can be avoided by simple gestures, in particular for children under 16 years and the elderly :
- Hand washing should be done systematically before preparing meals;
- Meat, especially minced beef, but also minced meat preparations, must be thoroughly cooked (and not pink);
- raw milk, cheeses made from raw milk and dairy products made from raw milk should not be consumed by children under 5 years old;
- Prefer pressed cooked cheeses (such as Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Beaufort), processed cheese spreads and pasteurized milk cheeses;
- Flour-based preparations (pizza/cookie/cake/pie dough, etc.) should not be eaten raw or undercooked;
- vegetables, salad, fruits and herbs, especially those that are going to be eaten raw must be carefully washed before consumption, after peeling if necessary;
- raw food should be stored separately from cooked or ready-to-eat food;
- cooked food and leftovers should be quickly put in the refrigerator and sufficiently reheated and consumed quickly;
- Kitchen utensils (especially those that have been in contact with raw food) and work surfaces should be washed thoroughly;
- children should not drink untreated water (well water, river water, etc.) and avoid swallowing it when swimming (lake, pond, etc.);
- Finally, very young children (less than 5 years old) should avoid contact with cows, calves, sheep, goats, deer, etc., and their environment; in case of contact with these animals, hand washing should be systematic.
For more information
– Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) – Ministry of Solidarity and Health (solidarites-sante.gouv.fr)– https://www.santepubliquefrance.fr/maladies-et-traumatismes/maladies-infectieuses-d-origine-alimentaire/syndrome-hemolytique-et-uremique-pediatrique