Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: DIGICOMPHOTO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRA / FCA / Science Photo Library via AFP 16:01 p.m., December 06, 2023

The Bordeaux prosecutor's office announced on Wednesday that the manager of a wine bar, placed in police custody on Tuesday, was referred on Wednesday for indictment for "homicide and unintentional injuries", "endangering the lives of others", "failure to assist a person in danger" and "selling corrupt or toxic foodstuffs".

The owner of a restaurant in Bordeaux was indicted on Wednesday in the investigation opened in September into about 15 cases of botulism, including one fatal, linked to canned sardines, the prosecutor's office announced. The investigations have highlighted "various breaches of health hygiene rules by the manager of the establishment, in particular with regard to the preparation of artisanal preserves," Frédérique Porterie, public prosecutor in Bordeaux, wrote in a statement.

>> ALSO READ - A dozen cases of botulism, one of them fatal: what is this rare but serious neurological condition?

An indictment for "manslaughter and unintentional injury"

The manager of the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar, who was taken into custody on Tuesday, was brought before the court on Wednesday to be charged with "manslaughter and unintentional injury", "endangering the lives of others", "failure to assist a person in danger" and "offering for sale of corrupt or toxic foodstuffs". The public prosecutor's office said it had "requested that he be placed under judicial supervision with a ban on practising (...) any activity related to catering". The penalties range from two to five years in prison and a fine of 45,000 to 600,000 euros.

A total of 16 customers, the majority of whom are foreigners, were identified as "suspected cases of botulism" after eating homemade canned sardines between September 4 and 10 at this tourist restaurant in the center of Bordeaux, a city that was then hosting two matches of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. A 32-year-old woman, of Greek nationality, died at her home in Vincennes on 12 September (Val-de-Marne). The other <> victims suffer from "various pathologies", according to the prosecutor's office.

About 25 people 'were exposed'

Botulism is a rare and serious neurological condition, fatal in 5 to 10% of cases, caused by a very powerful toxin produced by a bacterium that grows in particular in poorly preserved food, due to a lack of sufficient sterilization. It causes eye problems (double vision), swallowing defects and, in advanced forms, paralysis of the muscles, especially the respiratory muscles, which can lead to death.

>> READ ALSO – Product Cleaning, Observation... Tips to protect yourself from botulism

The investigation, entrusted to the judicial police, the Central Office for the Fight against Environmental and Public Health Offences (OCLAESP) and the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations, has determined that around 25 people "were exposed", according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Investigations are continuing in another aspect which concerns "the medical care of patients", the prosecutor's office added.