Calm. Surely you have had a good scare with this headline, and it is not for less. Before you proceed to throw away all the pizzas Buitoni that you have in the freezer, you should know certain details of this recent case of food poisoning that has had, unfortunately, fatal consequences.
First of all, this case of food poisoning only affects a specific line of Buitoni brand products called “Fraich Up”. Furthermore, it seems, it has only happened on french territory, so other countries should not be afraid to consume the pizzas and products of this brand. It is usual that when these cases happen, we overwhelmingly distrust the brand, in this case the Buitoni pizzas. But the reality is that there is no reason to worry about the rest of its products, much less in other countries such as Spain where no batches involved in poisoning have been detected. With that cleared up, let’s see what has happened in France exactly.
French authorities reported an increase in cases of a disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (SUH), with an estimate of 75 people affected to date. The ages included are below 18 years, which gives even more worrying overtones to the situation. All of them have had to regret the death of two children about 7 years old.
According to the investigations, the fault has fallen on some Buitoni brand frozen pizzas, marketed in June 2021. The fact that they are frozen pizzas aggravates the concern about this case, since the products have a long shelf life. Therein lies an added danger: they could still stay in the freezer from a French home, despite the fact that the country’s authorities have already withdrawn the products from the market after detecting the problem.
What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?
Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a serious disease that usually causes throbbing stomach pains and bloody diarrhea. This disorder is associated with the intake of bacteria Escherichia coli, belonging to the specific strain O157:H7, which produces a powerful toxin: Shiga toxin. In addition, it can mainly affect people with a weakened immune system or those who are more sensitive: children, the elderly and pregnant women. Unfortunately, we have been able to verify that this is totally true: the majority of those affected are children, and also the deceased.
It is true that most strains of Escherichia coli They are completely harmless to humans. But unfortunately, Escherichia coli O157:H7 is one of the most dangerous strains out there. The reason for its presence in Buitoni pizzas is uncertain at the moment, but everything seems to point to a poor hygiene management in the factory producing these foods: poor refrigeration, inefficient microbial controls and, ultimately, a resounding failure of the company’s food safety systems. This should never have happened, as there are protocols in the food industry to prevent it.
Escherichia coli Shiga toxin-producing is a bacterial strain that intoxicates us from within. That is, if the bacterium reaches our body alive goes crazy to produce Shiga toxin, and then we will develop hemolytic uremic syndrome. This is not the case with other common pathogens, whose modus operandi It consists of generating heat-resistant toxins in the food and making us eat them later. As the heat does not load the toxins, we are well screwed and intoxicated. However, this case is quite different: the dangerous strain of Escherichia coli It provokes us evil by itself, without minions involved.
Heat destroys Escherichia coli
The strange thing about the matter is that this bacterium is destroyed at a temperature of about 70ºC. And, as you well know, pizzas in the oven presumably reach much higher temperatures. Of course, this happens if we have cooked the pizzas correctly as indicated on the packaging. On the other hand, we must not confuse the temperature of the oven —which can be around 200-250ºC when cooking a pizza— with the degrees that said food actually reaches. Thus it is very important that we cook the food completely, until the temperature reaches the center of the food. It looks like these Buitoni pizzas weren’t cooked to the right temperature at the home of the intoxicated.
Did all the intoxicated really eat the pizza undercooked? It’s quite a strange situation. Of course, this does not mean that consumers have been to blame for the intoxication, far from it. The food supply company (in this case, Buitoni) must be responsible for offering safe products to consumers under all circumstances. It is a basic premise of the food industry. Unfortunately, it seems that this has not been the case: everything indicates that Buitoni pizzas were contaminated from the factory.
Despite everything, we should not be afraid of what we eat
Food poisoning is the order of the day in our environment, unfortunately. In most cases, these occur without many headaches, with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and general malaise. However, sometimes they can have fatal consequences, as we have already told you in previous texts. As we have seen, it happened again in France a few days ago due to this unfortunate case of food poisoning due to Buitoni pizzas. East food safety failure It has raised all the alerts in consumers, as is logical. We all wonder how it is possible that these things happen from a food company.
Although the news with the Buitoni pizzas is terrifying, it should not be a reason for distrust in the health authorities that ensure the adequate state of our food. In the European Union, fortunately, we have one of the best food security in the world. Good proof of this is that many problems related to food labeling failures, absence of certain allergens and also, on rare occasions, problems related to the presence of pathogens in an industrially processed food are detected daily.
They are exceptions that prove the rule, contrary to what we might think: the food control system is generally safe. The problem is that the news related to deaths always spread like wildfire, and make much more noise than the rest. Much more so in this case, where we have had to mourn the death of two minors. It is understandable, and we should not underestimate the situation: it is very serious that two children die from eating industrial pizzas. However, we must not panic: our food remains safe in global terms.