The Buitoni factory in Caudry shut down due to a drop in sales

The drop in sales led Nestlé France to announce to employees the suspension of activity at the Buitoni pizza factory in Caudry (Nord), at the heart of a serious health scandal. The establishment produced raw dough pizzas from the Fraîch’Up range, suspected of having caused the death of two children and the poisoning of dozens of others by the bacterium Escherichia coli.

The factory had partially reopened in mid-December 2022 after nine months of shutdown, but the production line in question had never resumed activity. Only the line of pizzas with cooked dough, not affected by the scandal, had been authorized to restart.

“The frozen pizza market has fallen by 20% in one year and has had an even greater impact on the Buitoni brand,” a spokesperson for Nestlé France told AFP. “Despite all the efforts made to ensure that the plant restarts under the best conditions in December 2022, the deterioration in the outlook for orders has forced Nestlé France to react. »

Salaries maintained

The company has so far only announced to employees a “temporary suspension” of activity with immediate effect. “I think we are definitely heading towards a closure,” said the mayor of Caudry Frédéric Bricout.

“What we are asking is the Nestlé group, a global group that makes billions in profits, to substitute another product for the production of pizzas in Caudry”, explained the elected official to AFP. The factory’s employees, just under 200 people, will keep their salaries pending a final decision on their factory, Nestlé France said.

Public Health France (SPF) and the Fraud Prevention Department (DGCCRF) were alerted in February 2022 by an upsurge in cases of kidney failure in children, linked to contamination by Escherichia coli.

A judicial investigation was opened in mid-May, in particular for manslaughter against one person and involuntary injuries concerning 14 others. In July, the boss of Nestlé France Christophe Cornu presented his “apologies” to the families of the children affected and announced the creation of a “victim support fund”.

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