McCain factory hit by Legionnaires' shut

20th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

LILLE, France, Jan 19 (AFP) - A McCain french fries plant in northern France halted production Monday after Legionnaires' disease was discovered in its cooling system, amid an outbreak of the deadly illness that has killed 10 people.

LILLE, France, Jan 19 (AFP) - A McCain french fries plant in northern France halted production Monday after Legionnaires' disease was discovered in its cooling system, amid an outbreak of the deadly illness that has killed 10 people.

Regional government officials ordered the plant be shut on Sunday as a precautionary measure after a small quantity of the Legionnaires' bacteria was found in one of the plant's refrigeration towers in late December.

Company officials at the world's largest maker of French fries - one-third of the global supply of French fries are from McCain - said there was no danger to consumers' health.

"McCain products have not been affected at all" by the presence of the small amount of the Legionnaires' bacteria.

McCain employs 630 people at the plant, of which 420 work making French fries.

A total of 76 people have contracted Legionnaires' disease in and around the northern town of Lens since late November, in what French officials say is one of the most serious outbreaks the country has ever experienced.

The cooling tower at the Noroxo petrochemicals plant in the town of Harnes is so far the only source of contamination that has been identified, although officials have singled out a possible second source further east.

Noroxo is part of the Exxon Mobil group, the world's biggest oil company.

Legionnaires' disease - first discovered at an American Legion convention in the United States in 1976 - causes high fever, dry cough, lung congestion and subsequent pneumonia.

It is commonly spread through contaminated air conditioners and ventilators and is treated with antibiotics.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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