Public health authorities in France have reported a nationwide outbreak of severe Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection, with the outbreak is linked to Fraîch'up brand frozen pizzas made by Buitoni. All frozen pizzas of this brand have been recalled by the manufacturer. Since the beginning of 2022, there have been 58 reported cases, including two child deaths.
E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Bacteria are eliminated into the environment through faeces, and can contaminate water, soil, and food sources. E. coli is a common cause of travellers' diarrhoea.
E. coli bacteria can survive cold temperatures, such as in food stored in the refrigerator and freezer, but they are destroyed by heat. Transmission is via the faecal-oral route and mainly from consuming contaminated food and water.
Advice for travellers
In relation to this particular outbreak, any Fraîch'up branded frozen pizzas should not be eaten and instead be thrown away.
All travellers, irrespective of destination, are potentially at risk of E. coli infection, and should be advised to seek medical advice if they develop symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, headache and fever. Older travellers and children are at increased risk of developing severe illness from E. coli infection.
All travellers should be advised to practice good hand hygiene and effective food and water precautions. This includes:
- effective hand washing before eating, food preparation and after using the toilet
- ensuring food is stored correctly, freshly cooked and piping hot
- carefully washing fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs before consumption, and peeling whenever possible
- avoiding unpasteurised milk or dairy products
Travellers should also avoid contact with animals and their environment, for example, cows, sheep, deer, goats, and should wash hands thoroughly if contact with animals occur.
More information can be found on the TRAVAX E. coli and travellers’ diarrhoea webpages (for health professionals) and the fitfortravel travellers’ diarrhoea webpage (for the general public).
Source: TRAVAX, 22 March 2022