Tchin Tchin Wine Bar in Bordeaux Alamy Stock Photo
public prosecutor

Bordeaux police officially open investigation into botulism cases that left one woman dead

The restaurant owners are facing a jail term of between three to five years and fines of between €45,000 to €60,000.

THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S office in Bordeaux has officially opened a preliminary investigation as up to 25 people, some of whom were Irish rugby fans, are understood to have been infected with rare botulism after eating sardines at a city centre restaurant.

Scientific analyses results released on Friday evening have confirmed the presence of type B botulism in the incriminated dish of sardine tapas and in the blood of several victims who ate at Tchin Tchin Wine Bar, on Rue Emile Duployé in Bordeaux.

A 30-year-old Mayo man who was in Bordeaux for the starting game of Ireland’s Pool B matches in the Rugby World Cup tournament against Romania has been in a Paris hospital Intensive Care Unit for the past several days. 

His Greek wife (32) of four months died last Tuesday after consuming the same sardines. An autopsy has been carried out on the young woman who died and results will be known early this week. Several other Irish rugby fans complained of becoming unwell. 

Bordeaux’s public prosecutor’s office is investigating the owners of the Bar for alleged involuntary manslaughter, involuntary injuries, sale of corrupt or toxic foodstuffs. The botulism cases came to light last Monday.

Those who have become ill ate at the premises between 4 AND 10 September. The Irish match was held on 9 September with thousands of fans descending on the southwestern city.

The Bordeaux public prosecutor’s office has confirmed that they have opened an official “preliminary investigation into the charges of unintentional injuries, involuntary homicide, placing harmful foodstuffs on the market and sale of corrupt or toxic foodstuffs,” according to French media reports. 

Public Health France announced that the bacteria in question was found in the sardine dish.

The results from the Pasteur Institute confirmed the presence of type B botulism meaning that the contamination could have come either from “a condiment linked to the preparation of the sardine dish”, or from external handling, such as “dirty hands which would have touched the preparation of the dish”.

Although all of the samples have not yet been analysed, the match between the dish and the victims has been established.

Eleven people are still hospitalised with eight in France. The Mayo man is in Paris, while seven others are at the Bordeaux University Hospital, six of whom are in intensive care and one in continuing care.

Their conditions are described as “stable” by authorities. Another three people are hospitalised in Spain and two in England.

 The joint investigation involves the zonal directorate of the judicial police for the South-West, the Central Office for the fight against attacks on the environment and public health (Oclaesp) and the departmental directorate for the protection of populations (DDPP) of Gironde.

The owners are facing a jail term of between three to five years and fines of between €45,000 to €60,000.

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