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Botulism in France, 08 September 2011

08 Sep 2011

On 5 September, French health authorities reported two clusters of botulism with a total of eight people affected: the first cluster (five cases) occurred in the district of Vaucluse in southern France, while the second cluster (three cases) was reported from the district of Somme in northern France.

All cases have consumed “tapenade” (food product based on ground olives), produced in the Vaucluse under the brand name “Les Délices de Marie-Claire”, batch number 112005. This product is distributed in four districts in southern France (i.e. Bouches-du-Rhône, Drome, Var and Vaucluse), and is available in food delicatessen stores since 31 May 2011 with a best before date of 16 December 2012.

Further analysis on products from the same producer identified additional positive products for botulinum toxin A. An investigation of the production site has then revealed that the sterilisation process in use is considered non-sufficient to kills Clostridium spores.

The ongoing trace-back investigation has identified that the implicated producer additionally sells their products under 2 other brand names “Le Secret de Anaïs” and “Terre de Mistral”.

French authorities have issued a national recall of all products produced by the implicated producer under the brand “Les Délices de Marie-Claire”, “Le Secret de Anaïs” and “Terre de Mistral”. These products are different types of pastes or spreads made of olives, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, bell-peppers, anchovies, tuna, chickpeas, artichokes and egg-plant. Additionally, the French authorities have informed the public health authorities of all European Member States.

Tourists who may have purchased this product while staying in France, are advised not to consume it. People having consumed one of these products and presenting abdominal pain, vomiting, and/or gastrointestinal or neurological symptoms should immediately seek advice from their doctor.

Botulism is a serious paralytic illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It may occur after eating foods containing the toxin or due to anaerobic germination of the spores within the intestine or within wounds. In food-borne botulism, paralytic symptoms generally appear after an incubation period of 12–36 hours (up to several days) after the ingestion of the toxin-containing food.

Read more on ECDC website:
Botulism factsheet for general public

More information about this event is available on the below French official websites:
Préfecture du Vaucluse, press release 'Intoxication alimentaire par toxine botulique A: retrait de la vente des produits' (in French)
Agence Régionale de Sante, 'Cas groupés de botulisme dans le Vaucluse (84) et la Somme (80)' (in French)

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