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Nestle wants to restart in November, subject to the authorities’ reservation, one of the two production lines at its Caudry factory, from which Buitoni pizzas were contaminated by the E. coli bacteria, linked to the death of two children and poisoning.

This health scandal broke out last March, and the link with the factory was quickly established.

Judicial information was opened in mid-May, namely for involuntary manslaughter against one person, involuntary injuries to 14 people, placing on the market a product that is dangerous to health and endangers other people. Young children have suffered kidney damage called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

a protocol

Nestlé France told AFP on Thursday it had implemented “a restart protocol” for the factory, including the dismantling and cleaning of production lines, including the flour silos.

The group wants to reopen only one of the two production lines, the one that produced pizzas from other ranges than the “Fraîch’Up” at the origin of the tragedy. The factory has been closed since March 18, and the mayor signed a closing order on April 1.

Contacted by AFP, the municipality of Nord indicated that the decree of the prefecture was at this stage “not revoked”, and will not be “until the observed anomalies (…) are not completely corrected”. “The effectiveness of the actions taken” by the operator “will be closely monitored by the State services”, he specifies.

According to Nestlé, the line where the Fraîch’Up were produced will remain suspended “until further notice”, which will result in job cuts.

“Given the prospects for sales in a sector in difficulty and the suspension until further notice of the Fraîch’Up pizza production line, it is necessary to adapt the factory’s workforce”, explained a doorman.word from Nestlé.

Out of a workforce of 182 full-time equivalents prior to March’s recall procedures, about 80 positions could be affected by a “volunteer-based” exit plan.

The social partners of the group were informed of the situation on Thursday morning and the officials in the afternoon. Nestlé France has offered Caudry employees early retirement for those of sufficient age, or internal mobility within the group, or other support measures for “external projects”.

In front of the factory, at the end of the meeting, the employees requested by AFP declined to speak.

contaminated flour

Nestlé also revealed several results of internal analyzes carried out by the company itself. These confirm, according to the group, “the most probable hypothesis of contamination of the flour by the bacteria E.coli STEC”, of the same type that was found in the pizzas at the origin of the contamination.

These analyzes were carried out in May and June on flour delivered to the factory in March 2022. This flour was stored in several silos at the factory, which had not been cleaned since 2015, according to officials cited in a survey by France Inter on Saturday.

What Nestlé does not dispute. When silos contain a dry product, they “must be cleaned only when changing ingredients,” his spokesperson replied on Thursday.

Contamination by flour delivered by a supplier was one of the hypotheses mentioned by the head of Nestlé France in an interview with Le Figaro in July and by employees cited by France Inter. But other possible causes were pointed out, such as cleanliness and hygiene conditions, after several warnings in the past and accusatory statements from employees.

Nestlé France, which claims to have collected more than 2,000 samples, claims to have not detected bacteria on production lines and their environment (walls, railings, etc.), but has detected the bacteria on frozen pizzas produced between October 2021 and February 16. , 2022.

Inspections by the health authorities for several years denounced “the presence of rodents” and the “lack of maintenance and cleaning of the manufacturing, storage and passage areas” at the factory. In 2012, the presence of “mold” and “rust” was noted, in 2020 the presence of “spider webs” on the bakery ceiling, “greasy and oily” material or even “accumulated” dirt in the ventilation ducts.

In March 2022, when inspectors returned there “as part of the health alert”, they noticed “a very clear deterioration in hygiene conditions” compared to September 2020 and March 2021, according to one of the Fraud reports.

This article was automatically published. Sources: ats / awp / afp

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