E.coli bacteria: Two little girls seriously ill, raw milk cheese contaminates dozens

Since November 2023, some children in various regions have sometimes suffered serious complications after consuming Morbier cheese.

In November 2023, six contaminations caused by E.coli bacteria were identified in a nursery near Toulouse, contaminated with morbier served to children. Therefore, raw milk cheeses produced by the Route des Terroirs company (ie Morbier, Tomme and Raclette) were the subject of a recall across France.

“Taking into account the findings made by the control services of the departmental directorate of employment, work, solidarity and protection of the population of Jura, the establishment is also subject to the process of suspending its health approval”, the Ministry of Agriculture mentioned in a press release in December.

Two little girls in critical condition in Rhone

The health status of the six Toulouse children no longer presents any concerns, but the number of cases continues to rise. As of early February 2024, 11 contaminations were reported in the Rhône, including two new serious cases: two girls, aged 7 years and 18 months, were hospitalized after consuming Morbier.

The father of Alice, 7, explained to that his daughter ate Morbier during a birthday meal in December 2023. During the holiday period her health began to deteriorate. Alice was placed in a coma, she may need a kidney transplant.

18-month-old Clara has come out of a coma but remains in critical condition. Still according to, she could not walk or eat at the beginning of February because her kidneys were no longer working properly, and her left arm was paralyzed.

Too long delay before collecting products?

Morbier cheese was bought in Leclerc stores, according to “60 Millions de Consumers”. A question then arises: what was the product still doing on the shelves?

In the first case of contamination in the Rhône, Leclerc explained that purchased Morbier cheese was not affected by the recall announcement. “We cannot exclude a traceability error in the logistics chain, or even occasional cross-contamination with recalled products,” according to comments reported by “60 Millions de Consumeteurs”.

According to Leclerc Stores, Morbier cheese from the Monts & Terroirs brand was purchased in the second instance before the recall was announced and ensured it removed all hazardous products while taking steps to inform consumers.

“60 million consumers” condemns the many necessary steps that separate a warning and a decision to remove products from shelves. “Why was this cheese recalled only from December 8, 2023, when the first case was reported in Toulouse in November”?

What do health officials recommend?

“In general, health authorities point out that, as a precaution, raw milk and cheese made from raw milk should not be consumed by young children, especially children under 5 years of age. Cooked pressed cheese (such as Emmental, Comté, etc.), processed spreadable cheese and pasteurized milk cheese”, recalls the Ministry of Agriculture. The same goes for pregnant women and immunocompromised people.

The bacteria can also cause complications in adults. “People who experience diarrhoea, abdominal pain or vomiting within 3-4 days (15 days maximum) after consuming these products are invited to consult their treating physician, notifying them of this consumption and recalling the products by the company. Absence of symptoms within 15 days after consumption of the concerned products, there is no need to worry and consult a doctor.

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