The owner of the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar in Bordeaux, France has been charged with involuntary homicide after 15 people fell ill and one person died due to botulism caused by contaminated sardine preserves made by the establishment.
Many of the people who fell ill from the sardine preserves were tourists who were in town for the Rugby World Cup in September 2023. The victims were mostly in their 30s and 40s, but ranged up to age 70, and hailed from the U.S., the UK, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Greece, and France.
A total of 13 patients were hospitalized, with six requiring intensive care. The patients fell ill between September 5 and 12, 2023. A 36 year-old woman from Greece died.
French authorities traced the outbreak to the oil-based sardine preserves served at the bar, which were improperly preserved by the establishment. Investigators uncovered breaches of health and hygiene regulations, especially with regards to the sardines, calling the bar’s method of canning “artisanal” and noting improper sterilization. The restaurant had also been reported for health violations in the past.
Sardine samples taken from the bar tested positive for B Botulinum neurotoxin and type B Clostridium botulinum.
The owner of the bar has been charged with involuntary homicide and injuries caused by a deliberate failure to comply with safety regulations, endangering the life of others, failure to assist a person in danger, and the sale of contaminated or toxic food products. The owner could face up to five years in prison and significant fines.