French children hospitalised by E. coli burgers
Six children were hospitalised in France with E. coli infections after eating meat that manufacturers said could come from Germany, where an outbreak of the bacteria has killed 38 people.
The children, the youngest of whom is 20 months old, had eaten defrosted hamburgers made by the French company SEB which said the meat was taken from animals slaughtered in three European countries and processed in France.
"There's meat from Germany, there's meat from Belgium and from Holland," SEB chief executive Guy Lamorlette told AFP. "There are several suppliers. We will have to await the test results to say which is contaminated."
A spokesman for the Regional Health Agency (ARS) in Lille, northern France, where the children were hospitalised on Wednesday, told AFP: "They are in a serious but not worrying state. Their lives are not at all in danger."
The "Steak Country" burgers were bought in French branches of German supermarket Lidl. SEB said it had recalled them and Lidl said it had removed them from its shelves in France.
Health authorities said the infection was a rare strain of the E. coli bacteria and was not linked to the similar outbreak in Germany.
The ARS official said the children had suffered from bloody diarrhoea, which also struck victims of the outbreak in Germany which has been blamed on infected vegetable sprouts.
The French infections "have no link at present with the recent epidemic in Germany," the official added, however.
© 2011 AFP