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Boy's death hits burger bar sales

Food poisoning blamed at chain Quick as prosecutor prepares charges for involuntary manslaughter

FAST-food firm Quick has seen sales slide across France after a teenager died from food poisoning after eating at one of its restaurants in Avignon.

The company said the Avignon site saw sales drop by 30 per cent since 14-year-old Benjamin Orset was taken ill and later died. It had also seen a downturn in its 362 restaurants across France, although not so severe.

Avignon prosecutor Catherine Champrenault said tests on the victim found Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in his stomach. Tests at the Quick Avignon-Sud burger bar found that five of the eight employees working when he ate there on January 21 with his father had traces of the bacteria and there were bacteria on food preparation surfaces.

The prosecutor is preparing charges for involuntary manslaughter, citing a lack of care taken in preparing the food.

Quick has already ended its contract with the restaurant’s franchisee, who had two other sites in the Vaucluse. The Avignon burger bar was closed by the prefect on January 22 and reopened on February 11, only to close again for refurbishment.

Quick MD Jacques-Edouard Charret said that it was difficult to explain what had happened. The burger bar had served thousands of meals that weekend.

About 100 people ate the same meal as Benjamin Orset in the hour before and after he was served, yet only two people had reported stomach problems.

Mr Charret said it would take months to rebuild confidence in the chain.

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