Beetroot suspected of poisoning 40 French students in January

Red beets are suspected of poisoning 40 school children on January 10, 2014, in Lambersart, France.

According to food service provider Sodexo, preliminary laboratory analysis indicates a bacteria on red beats that produces a toxin when stored at room temperature is beets1responsible for the outbreak.

On January 10, 150 children in Lambersart began vomiting and having headaches. After being examined 40 children were diagnosed with “light” poisoning (something may be lost in translation here, but thanks, Amy, for the work, and Luca for the link).

Sodexo says it has changed their beat supplier and is strengthening their regular testing of suppliers.

French pork group Cooperl rejects Salmonella fraud allegations

France’s leading pork processor Cooperl has rejected allegations in a French newspaper report that it knowingly sold meat contaminated with Salmonella before November 2012 using falsified documents.

According to the report in Le Télégramme, between 2010 and 2012, 1,500 tonnes of meat was used in the composition of prepared dishes such as ravioli and charcuterie Cooperl.porkproducts like salami, sausage and cocktail sausages. The lines were said to have been distributed in France and Russia.

The co-operative confirmed its premises were inspected by police in November 2012 “which revealed a probable misinterpretation on our part of the regulations in force.”

Immediately after the inspection, Cooperl improved its analysis protocols for Salmonella. “We are in full conformity with regulatory requirements relating to food quality and safety,” a spokesperson said.

The Brittany-based group added: “We totally reject the allegations of fraud levelled at our company in this report which are completely unfounded.” It underlined the suspected meat had not represented a health risk to consumers.

125 students victims of food poisoning in French canteen

In yet another outbreak of foodborne illness in  France (which Amy helped translate this warm Sunday morning), 125 school students in Lambeth, near Lille, were stricken with fish_headsstomach pains, vomiting and headaches.

According to Marc-Philippe Daubresse, the Mayor of Lambeth, , this “slight” intoxication was due to the fish. But checks were requested to Sodexo, the provider of meals in the city.

68 students sick; pasta bolognese probable source at school

Sixty-eight people, mostly students, were victims of food poisoning, probably from eating pasta bolognese in the canteen of a private vocational school in Yvelines, 50 km west of Paris.

A communications officer with the school said, “65 people were taken to hospitals to pasta bologneseundergo additional tests and all have returned home or boarding with treatment.”

The people who ate the pasta carbonara did not get sick but the school administration also says there had been cases of gastroenteritis for several days in the school.

School meals are cooked on site. 

French Ministers contract foodborne outbreak in Algiers

(translated by Amy hubbell)

During his visit to Algeria on December 16, France’s Prime Minister along with a few members of his government had the idea to go eat fish at a restaurant serving dishes local to Algiers. They fell ill, and came out the other side with a  raging foodborne illness, according to the Canard Enchaîné newspaper in today’s edition.

 The historic journey of the French delegation to Algeria ended not in one drama but in two, joked the satirical French weekly paper. The first was the witticism the French President let out during a dinner about Valls coming back from Algiers “safe and sound which is saying MC3_1544 Bejaia Bonitosa lot.” It was a joke that angered social media in Algeria and which the Algerian authorities only reacted to much later. The second drama, however, was not reported until the news was released by the Canard Enchaîné.

 On December 15, the French delegation led by Jean-Marc Ayrault went out to dine at the port in a fish and seafood restaurant. The result, as revealed by the satirical weekly paper: a raging case of foodborne illness. 

27 children sick from food poisoning in France

Twenty-seven students enrolled in primary school and college Mont Bar Allegre were victims of food poisoning.

Aged 6-13 years, they returned home with a prescription. The mayor Allegre has provided the multipurpose room for organizing the examinations of both health professionals and for families. 


40 sickened with Salmonella linked to Paris butcher

Our food safety friend in France shared a report that concluded from Dec. 24 2012, the Paris Child Protection Service reported several cases of salmonellosis cases in children hosted in 4 nurseries located in the 7th borough of Paris. In a second step, the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella noticed an increase of salmonellosis cases in Paris in butcher-decade-e1302885066394December 2012 and for several cases, an until now rare Crispol profile was identified — CT51.

Investigations were performed and 40 cases were identified: 30 confirmed cases, 4 possible cases and 6 probable
 cases. They were 10 children hosted in 4 nurseries and 30 community cases. The outbreak was due to 2 strains of Salmonella: S.Typhimurium CT51 and S.4,12:i:-, a monophasic variant of serovar Typhimurium.

During the telephone interview of the cases, it occurred that most of the cases went to a butchery located in the 7th borough of Paris a few days before the onset of the disease. A random inspection led in the butchery by the Food Hygiene Service revealed many infringements to food hygiene. Some samples were taken in the butchery and 2 S.Typhymurium CT51 and S.4,12:i:- strains were found on the surfaces and in the food sold by the butcher.

This investigation emphasized the role played by observation and early reporting of the Child Protection Service. This report was the visible part of a larger epidemic event that included both cases living in institutions and in the community which occurred simultaneously.

Sustainability and safety; expired French food will suddenly be OK to eat

I really have no idea what sustainable means.

But, as explained by Rachel Feltman of Quartz, France has announced its plan to cut food waste, and one of it targets is sell-by dates found on france_500x213packages, which tend to be overly cautious and poorly communicated.

The move by Food and Agriculture Minister Guillaume Garot is part of in an effort to comply with a European Union initiative to halve food waste by 2025. France currently throws away an average of 20 kilograms of food each year per capita.

A key problem with sell-by dates is that consumers often don’t understand what they mean. A 2012 paper in Food Engineering & Ingredients explains what’s flawed about the EU’s policies for stamping food with ‘use by’ dates for safety purposes and ‘best before’ dates for quality:

There is survey evidence that many consumers do not understand the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. This has sometimes been exacerbated by the use of other date labels, such as ‘display until’ and ‘sell by’, which have no status in law and are mainly used by retailers for stock control purposes.

This confusion, the paper says, could lead to consumers eating foods that have become unsafe. But it’s more likely to lead consumers to throw out Food-Labels-Organic-and-Naturalfood that’s still edible.

A good example of a commonly mislabeled food is yogurt: Because it has a low pH and usually uses pasteurized milk as a base, yogurt is extremely unlikely to cause foodborne disease for some time past its expiration date, even when it’s past peak quality in terms of texture and taste. (A bulging package and visible mold are signs of yogurt spoilage—but absent them it’s generally safe to eat and usually still tasty up to 10 days after its sell-by date.)

But a 2010 retail survey by the anti-food-waste non-profit Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) showed that 75% of yogurt in the EU carried a ‘use by’ date, which many consumers took to mean that the product would be unsafe to eat after only a week or two on the shelves. 

The French government is likely to tweak labeling regulations so that safety periods more accurately reflect a product’s real shelf-life. For example, ‘best before’ will be replaced with ‘preferably to be consumed before.’ After that, hopefully consumers can figure it out themselves.

Shop cooking caterpillar stew shut down in France

During a routine check, French health inspectors uncovered a pot of curious meat boiling on a stove at an Aubervilliers store.

Upon further investigation, the officers discovered the contents of the pot were Caterpillar stewactually a caterpillar stew.

According to the Agence France-Presse, inspectors tossed three hundred kilos (about 661 pounds) of the meat when they could not determine its origin. French police later closed the shop, citing hygiene violations.

Dishes containing caterpillar meat are apparently quite common in some African countries.

Re-emergence of brucellosis in cattle in France and risk for human health via raw milk cheese

In January 2012, a human case of brucellosis was diagnosed by blood culture in a district of the French Alps. The isolated strain was identified as Brucella melitensis biovar 3. Excerpts from the paper by Mailles et al. in the current issue of Eurosurveillance appear below.

In April 2012, brucellosis was confirmed in a dairy cow in a herd of the same district of the French Alps. The seropositive cow had aborted in late January, and a strain of Brucella melitensis biovar 3 was isolated from the milk sampled from the animal. The animal belonged to a herd 21 dairy cows, and no other animal in the herd presented with symptoms suggesting brucellosis or showed any serological reaction. Approximately 20 kg of Reblochon cheese (soft raw milk cheese) are usually produced daily on the affected farm.

France has been officially free of brucellosis in cattle since 2005, and the last outbreak of brucellosis in sheep and goats was reported in 2003. In order to detect and prevent any re-emergence of the disease, annual screening using Rose Bengale test or complement fixation test is carried out in all cattle, sheep and goat farms producing raw milk as well as in all cattle herds, and every one to three years in small ruminant, according to EU regulations. Moreover, abortion in ruminants is mandatorily notifiable and the investigation of abortion includes examination for brucellosis.

Reblochon cheese is a raw milk soft cheese, requiring a maturation period of three weeks to one month. The cheese from the affected farm had been commercialised after the abortion in seven districts. Cheese was sold directly at the farm, and as whole pieces or in parts in supermarkets. Cheese produced by the affected farm had not been exported to other countries but might have been bought by foreign tourists during their winter holidays in several ski resorts in the area. For this reason, the European rapid alert system for food and feed (RASFF) was informed.

After the identification of the first bovine case, the human case was interviewed again to investigate any direct or indirect epidemiological link with the infected herd. During the second interview, it became clear that the patient and their family had visited the infected farm in autumn 2011, although it was not possible to determine the exact date. During this visit, the family had bought Tome Blanche cheese, a fresh cheese obtained during the first step of Reblochon production. The four family members had shared the Tome Blanche on the same day, but the index case was the only one who later presented with symptoms.

All cheese pieces produced by the affected farm and still within the shelf life were withdrawn from retailers. In addition, a recall of already sold products was carried out via a national press release by the cheese producer and by posters in the sale points. Medical doctors in the concerned districts were informed by the regional health authorities. Consumers of these products were advised to seek medical attention should they present symptoms consistent with brucellosis.
The release of cheese from the affected farm was immediately stopped. The movements of animals from other herds that had epidemiological links with the infected herd (those that were geographically close to the infected herd, or had been bought from the infected herd) have been restricted until the end of the investigation. Furthermore, raw cheese products from farms with epidemiological links to the infected farm were put on sale only after negative bacteriological tests results had been obtained.