Botulism Outbreak in France


Two clusters of botulism, affecting a total of eight people, in southern and northern France have been associated with eating tapenade, a food product based on ground olives.

All cases had consumed tapenade produced in the Vaucluse district of southern France under the brand name "Les Délices de Marie-Claire", batch number 112005. This product is distributed in four districts in southern France (i.e. Bouches-du-Rhône, Drome, Var and Vaucluse), and was available in food delicatessen stores since 31 May 2011 with a best before date of 16 December 2012. French authorities have issued a national recall of all products produced by the implicated producer, and have informed the public health authorities of all European Member States.

Tourists who may have purchased this product while staying in France, are advised not to consume it.

Botulism is caused by a botulinum toxin, which is a poison produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The bacterium is commonly found in the soil in the form of spores. Botulism produces a neurological condition affecting the nerves of the body. Symptoms often begin with blurred vision and difficulty in swallowing and speaking, but sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting can occur. The disease can lead to problems with vision, and paralysis. Most cases make a recovery, but the recovery period can be many months. The disease can be fatal in 5-10% of cases. Botulism is a notifiable disease in Ireland.

More information on botulism is available on the HPSC website here.

More information (in French) about this event is available on the French official websites: