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The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Paris
"Affected 19 regions of France"
 real 28k

Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 16:03 GMT
Listeria kills seven in France

Jean Glavany The Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany ordered widespread checks


Seven people have died, two of them babies, in a nationwide outbreak of listeria in France.

Health authorities are still trying to identify the food sources responsible for leaving another 23 ill across 19 regions of the country.

The French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said analysis appears to indicate that the deaths are as result of the same sort of listeria bacteria.

He said the people had probably consumed the same type of food.


Listeria outbreak
8 Jan: Two die
9 Jan: Pate factory blamed
19 Feb: Seven more deaths


"We haven't found any connection between what the people involved ate over the past two months," he said.

Two months is the maximum incubation period for the listeria bacteria.

Shops checked

French food and consumer safety authorities are investigating shops used by the victims to try to track down the bacteria.

Pate was blamed for the last outbreak


pate Pate was blamed for the last outbreak
Listeria is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and people with reduced immunity to infection.

Two people died in a listeria outbreak in early January, believed to have been caused by contaminated rillettes, a coarse pork pate.

At the time, the government recommended that vulnerable people should avoid high-risk foods like cheeses made with unpasteurised milk, smoked fish and some meat products.

Since March 1998, doctors have been obliged to report every case of listeria infection.

"Contamination can be passed on from one member of a family to another, for example, by the same knife used to cut contaminated food being used on something else," the spokesman said.

It is by no means certain that the cause will ever be known, the ministry warned.

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See also:
09 Jan 00 |  Europe
Listeria firm cleans up
04 Jun 99 |  Europe
New bans for Belgian food

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