Child stricken with HUS in France; link to frozen ground beef patties

Our French correspondent Albert forwarded a press release issued yesterday by the French Ministry of Health and Sports; Amy translated.

Following notification on February 11, 2009 to InVS (The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance) of a case of hemolytic uremic syndrome in a child who is hospitalized in the Parisian region, health authorities have begun an investigation to identify the source of contamination.

The tests done on the child indicated he or she was infected with E. coli.

Among the foods consumed was frozen ground beef patties on which tests were conducted. The results of these tests were relayed today to health authorities and demonstrated the presence of E. coli. The link between this case and the consumed food will only be confirmed after further testing which is currently in progress.

While waiting for those results, the authorities have asked the producer to proceed with a  recall of CERGEL brand frozen ground beef patties sold in boxes of 10 with a best-by date of 10/31/09.

The health authorities are asking people who have bought these patties to not eat them and to return them to where they were purchased.

The Ministry also has some general advice, which seems a bit lacking, but maybe it got lost in translation.

Generally you are reminded that:

–    Ground meat ordered at the butcher shop must be consumed that day and frozen ground meat must be used without any prior defrosting;

–    Cooking the ground beef patties through to the center prevents the consequences of E. coli contamination. The bacteria is destroyed by a temperature of 65°C (149°F). Children and pregnant women should not consume rare meat.

–    Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is an illness most frequently originating in food, rare in France, and potentially serious for the very young and very old. It can cause acute renal insufficiency in children under the age of 3.