Nestlé is facing preliminary charges of involuntary manslaughter from prosecutors in France relating to the E. coli outbreak in some of its pizzas two years ago.

The draft indictment has been brought against Société des Produits Alimentaires de Caudry, a subsidiary of Nestlé’s French arm, which manufactured the affected Buitoni Fraîch’Up frozen pizzas at its factory in Caudry, northern France.

The investigation is still ongoing with a final verdict not expected for a couple of years, a company spokesperson told Just Food.

In a statement released today (5 July), the Swiss food major said: We recognise the incredible heartbreak that this tragedy has caused. We wish to reiterate our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.

“Nestlé France intends to fully assume its responsibilities in this case. We hope that these legal proceedings will help to fully clarify the circumstances of this dramatic event and bring some healing for the victims and their families.”

In March 2022, Nestlé issued a recall of all Fraîch’Up pizzas sold in France since June 2021, putting all production on pause. The group had reportedly detected E.coli in pizza flour at the factory in August 2021.

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Around fifty children fell ill after consuming the contaminated products, while two children died.

After receiving the green light to re-open the site in December 2022, Nestlé decided to close the Caudry factory last March, due to falling sales driven by fallout from the nine-month closure and inflation.

The following month, Nestlé said it had agreed to a settlement deal with “the vast majority” of the victims who had been represented by lawyer Pierre Debuisson.

At the time, the company said that each claimant was to receive “an equitable compensation proposal from Nestlé France, subject to a medical assessment that takes into consideration the seriousness of the damage and each situation”.