France's Leclerc recalls cheese brand after E.coli cases in children

PARIS (Reuters) - French food retailer Leclerc has issued a recall of a brand of cheese made with raw milk that has been linked by the authorities to cases of E.coli bacteria among young children.

Leclerc, France’s biggest supermarket chain by market share, said on its website that it was withdrawing Reblochon cheese supplied by cheesemaker Chabert in the Savoy region and sold under the “Nos regions ont du talent” (“Our regions have talent”) brand.

The move came after the French health authorities linked seven cases of E.coli 026 bacteria among children between one-and-a-half and three years to the cheese, which is a creamy speciality of the French Alps.

“The investigations conducted by the health authorities have confirmed an epidemiological link between these cases and the consumption of whole Reblochon cheese made with raw milk under the brand and sold by the Leclerc chain in several regions,” France’s health and agriculture ministries said in a joint statement.

The ministries said that six of the seven cases of infection involved hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a potentially serious condition that can cause kidney failure among young children.

Six children were taken to hospital and one is yet to return home, the health ministry added in an emailed response.

The cause of the E.coli outbreak was not yet known, the ministries said in their statement, reiterating official guidance that raw milk and cheese made with raw milk should not be given to young children.

The agriculture ministry, which is overseeing the product recall, said it was unable to give details at this stage, while Leclerc did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In another health alert affecting children, France witnessed a massive recall of baby milk late last year after cases of salmonella bacteria were linked to a factory of dairy giant Lactalis.

(This version of the story corrects brand name in second paragraph to “Nos regions ont du talent” instead of “Nos regions ont des talents”)

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Bate Felix and Louise Heavens