Police question hamburger producer in France following E. coli O157 outbreak; more hearings to come

(Translated by the students in FREN3310 Introduction to French to English translation at the University of Queensland)

This is something not seen in the U.S.

Following an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak which sickened up to 10 children in Northern France in June, 2011, three directors, including the president of the French frozen beef patty manufacturer SEB, were detained and questioned, according to information released by the Douai prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

SEB’s CEO Guy Lamorlette, the director of quality control, and the quality technician were taken into custody on Tuesday morning by Lille Police investigators and the Public Health Department. According to the Prosecutor Eric Vaillant in Douai, the police then began searching the business.

The three directors were released Tuesday at 10 p.m., added the prosecutor, who will decide whether to open a judicial inquiry in the coming days. The three men could be given three years in prison and fined 45,000 euros for involuntary injuries.

At least two other members of SEB’s management will be interviewed on Wednesday, announced the prosecution.

The discount chain Lidl, who represented 60% of SEB’s orders, terminated their contract with the manufacturer in August. Headquartered in Saint-Dizier (Haunte-Marne), SEB has 140 employees and is in receivership.

A preliminary inquiry into involuntary injuries is in the hands of the Douai prosecutor’s office, and nine families have filed complaints.

Since June, around 10 cases of E. coli O157 have been confirmed among children in the North of France, according to the regional health authority (ARS). Several of the children had consumed frozen beef patties manufactured by SEB.