The family and partner of the woman who died after eating tinned sardines in a popular wine bar in Bordeaux have filed two charges of manslaughter against the establishment.
Marie G., 32, who was of Greek origin, died on September 12 after returning home to Ile-de-France from Bordeaux.
She was among the 15 people who tested positive for botulism after eating sardines, which had been tinned by the owner, at the Tchin-Tchin Wine Bar between September 4 and September 10.
A total of 11 people are still hospitalised, six of whom are in the reanimation ward of Bordeaux hospital. Tracking down people infected has proved particularly difficult, as most of the bar’s clients were foreign tourists from various countries, such as Canada, Ireland, Germany or the UK.
Many of them had left the country by the time the outbreak was detected. Three British nationals are being treated in the UK, as well as one person in Germany and another in Spain.
Credit card records were used to help trace potential victims, showing that other British nationals were present in the bar between September 4 and 10. Two were contacted, but showed no symptoms.
People who ate at Tchin-Tchin Wine Bar in that time period are encouraged to reach out to health authorities even if they do not show symptoms.
The inquiry into ‘manslaughter’ was launched by the public prosecutor of Bordeaux last Friday is still ongoing. Preliminary findings show that Marie G. died of asphyxia, one of the symptoms of botulism.
The case has been turned into a joint investigation by the departmental health authority (DDPP) and the judicial police on health and environment.
A complete toxicology report is expected in the next few days.
Bar owner is devastated
The bar owner’s lawyer told BFMTV that his client was ‘devastated’ by the situation and that he had ‘no plan of reopening at this time.’
He said the owner was sure that he had followed proper sterilisation procedures. He says that any can that did not produce a ‘psh’ sound when opened - a sign that it has been properly heated and sealed – was discarded.
The cans that caused the outbreak of botulism were made in the same batch but showed no sign of contamination or faulty canning.
In their first reports on the bar, the DDPP noted a ‘lack of mastery of hygiene and safety standards’, which was refuted by the owner and his lawyer.
The owner has offered his assistance in finding the remaining people that may have been infected, and will be officially heard by authorities in the next few days.
Before this incident, the last fatal case of botulism in France was in 2016.