This preliminary investigation was opened on May 25 for “deception aggravated by the danger to human health”, “involuntary attacks on physical integrity” and “endangering the lives of others”.
The Public Health Pole of the Paris Court of Justice seized it “on the basis of the withdrawals and recalls made by the company Ferrero, the elements communicated by Santé Publique France and the complaint of the Foodwatch association” filed on May 19, the prosecution told AFP.
This consumer defense association has itself brought together several complaints from families of victims.
This new investigation was entrusted to the Central Office for the fight against damage to the environment and public health (Oclaesp) and to the national investigation service of the Fraud Directorate (DGCCRF), according to the prosecution.
It comes after the opening of that targeting the Buitoni pizzas of the Nestlé group, at the origin of serious cases of contamination of children by the bacterium Escherichia coli.
“It’s a first step but we ask as in the Buitoni case that a judicial investigation be opened quickly”, reacted François Lafforgue, the lawyer for Foodwatch France contacted by AFP.
– Recall –
“Dozens of victims” have come forward and are waiting “for all the light to be shed in this case too many”, he added.
Contacted by AFP, Ferrero said he would “not comment on the ongoing procedure” but wanted to cooperate “fully with the authorities, as has always been the case”.
Salmonellosis, caused by a bacterium, causes symptoms similar to those of sometimes acute gastroenteritis.
In early April, the Italian confectionery giant recalled all products made at its factory in Arlon, Belgium, after dozens of cases of salmonellosis were reported possibly linked to the consumption of its chocolate products in several countries around the world. ‘Europe.
Kinder Surprise, Kinder Mini Eggs, Kinder Surprise Maxi 100 g and Kinder Schoko-Bons were concerned, in all the countries where they are distributed and regardless of their expiry date.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control had identified as of June 3 392 confirmed and 22 probable cases of salmonellosis in European Union countries and Great Britain.
Children under 10 have been the main victims of this infection, with no deaths recorded to date.
In France, Public Health France recorded 118 cases as of June 2, so 22 had to be hospitalized for a time.
Belgian justice opened an investigation on April 11, led since June 19 by an examining magistrate, to establish possible responsibilities within the Arlon factory.
– Failures –
The group was alerted on March 23 by the British authorities of possible salmonella contamination of its products. But, according to European health agencies, the first case detected in England dates back to December 21, without the link with Kinder chocolates having been established.
Ferrero assured having, on December 15, identified and blocked in its Belgian factory contaminated batches and having taken hygiene measures to eliminate the presence of the bacterium.
Since the beginning of April, more than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market in France.
The Arlon factory was raided on Wednesday as part of the Belgian investigation, along with five other Ferrero sites in Brussels and Luxembourg.
According to internal investigations, the contamination would come from “a filter located in a dairy butter tank” and would have arrived there “either by contaminated raw materials, or by people”, indicated in May the general manager France of Ferrero, Nicolas Neykov, at the Parisian.
The group has received more than 150,000 requests for compensation and 90% of these requests have been “satisfied”, he said.
Ferrero has requested the reopening of the Arlon factory on June 13.
The group, which has recognized shortcomings, announces that 50% of health checks will now be carried out by an approved external laboratory whereas, “for the time being”, everything is based on an internal self-checking system.