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“Mold, dirt, moths”, hygiene failures reported for 10 years

The Nestlé group had already received a “warning” from the Fraud Repression in 2020 after several “breaches” of hygiene observed at the Buitoni factory in Caudry at the heart of a bacteria contamination scandal. E. coli which caused the death of two children in mid-February.

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The Buitoni factory in Caudry (Nord), at the heart of a health scandal since mid-February and the death of two children infected with the bacterium Escherichia coli, had been the subject of various alerts for ten years. According to reports revealed Wednesday, June 15 by the investigative media Disclose and that franceinfo was able to consult, the Fraud Repression pointed out “failures” of hygiene in 2012 and 2014, before sending in 2020 a “Warning” to the Nestlé group, owner of the Buitoni brand and its implicated Fraîch’up pizzas.

Each time, the agents of the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP) in the North attached to the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) alert to the presence of “moulds”of “rust”, or even of “brown stains” from the ground to the ceiling. Ice forming around freezer doors suspected to be no longer “hermetic” and “food moths” swarm on the pizza production line.

January 2016 DGCCRF report on the Caudry site.  (DISCLOSED DOCUMENT)

According to a spokesperson for the DGCCRF to AFP, the ax finally fell in September 2020 with a “Warning” followed by a counter-visit in March 2021. The Swiss agrifood giant then seemed to have complied with hygiene rules.

On March 31, however, two weeks after having finally been identified as the source of the health scandal which left two children dead, the management of Nestlé France assured that the photos of floors strewn with food waste and tanks overflowing with dough which circulated on Internet “does not represent normal, customary, or acceptable factory condition” and that the last checks, unannounced according to her, of the DDPP had not found anything abnormal. Reports revealed on Wednesday show the opposite. Moreover, according to the DGCCRF, the inspection in September 2020 and the counter-visit in March 2021 were not unexpected. They had been announced 48 hours in advance to the management of the Caudry factory due to teleworking linked to the health crisis.

In March 2022, when inspectors returned to the pizza factory after the scandal, they found “a very marked deterioration in hygiene conditions” compared to their two previous passages. The prefecture of the North ended up prohibiting the activity by decree of April 1st. A judicial investigation is underway in Paris, in particular for manslaughter and involuntary injuries.



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