Two children have already died from contamination with E. coli bacteria, present in Buitoni pizzas, and dozens are in serious condition. The lawyer for several families accuses the brand of having offered compensation in the form of a purchase voucher to one of them.
Buitoni sinks a little deeper into the scandal of contaminated frozen pizzas. the March 19, lhe brand owned by the Nestlé group had announced the immediate recall of the entire Fraîch’up range, produced at the northern Caudry site, due to the presence of Escherichia coli bacteria.
This contamination can have serious or even fatal consequences on health, especially for the youngest, such as kidney failure and a drop in the concentration of blood cells. As of April 13, 53 cases of contamination, including 52 in children, have been identified by Public Health France. In Hauts-de-France, this concerns 11 people. Two children have already died as a result of their contamination, dozens of others are in serious condition. Since the start of the scandal, Buitoni has kept a discreet and unique line of communication: the brand ensures its full cooperation with the investigation.
Most of the families of victims have so far not been contacted by the Nestlé group. But Me Richard Legrand, lawyer for several of them, accuses Buitoni of having called a victim’s family on April 21, for a conversation whose content raises questions. “There has been no contact from the brand for several weeks, and there, very recently, a family was contacted by the brand, by consumer services. They wanted to apologize in a way for the inconvenience caused, by the granting of compensation in the form of vouchers. We are talking about a derisory amount, around twenty euros!” trace the lawyer.
“Offering a voucher, and on such a derisory sum, is borderline insulting. After such a long silence, we don’t see the point of it, it seems insane. We don’t believe in a real disinterestedness of the brand”, believes Me Legrand. For him, this is a deliberate strategy to prepare a defense, seeking access to medical information. “There were exchanges, and perhaps a desire to find out about the state of health of the victims. I feel like it’s more of a pretext to get information about a victim than to apologize.” concludes the family lawyer.
Contacted by France 3, Buitoni initially explained that he was on the trail of the telephone call in question, to seek to know its context and content. The brand then communicated additional elements. According to the communication from Buitoni, this call was made following a report on the SignalConso site, an approach which implies on the part of the company a direct reminder procedure to the customer. “In accordance with the procedure, we called her back in order to understand the situation. explains the brand of the Nestlé group. “There is no search for consumers or families in particular, we have no right to do so and we do not do it” insists Buitoni’s communication.
The questions asked would have been “for the smooth running of the exchanges” and understanding of the situation, but Buitoni formally denies having crossed the barrier of medical secrecy.
“In the case mentioned by La Voix du Nord, following the exchange, the procedure continued, the person received vouchers, as is the case for people requesting a refund of their pizzas following the mass recall on March 18. This should not have been done and we would like to offer our most sincere apologies to this consumer who may have been offended by the receipt of these vouchers. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” concludes the group.
At least 16 families have already lodged a complaint or announced their intention to do so. A survey for “manslaughter” and “deception”opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, is still open.