Although health officials in France have not yet concluded the investigation of the source of E. coli contamination that caused 8 children to be hospitalized, beef burgers are the prime suspect.

The sickened children all reportedly consumed burgers bought frozen from the European grocery chain Lidl. The burger patties were manufactured SEB-CERF, a French company, which sourced its beef from farms in France, Germany and the Netherlands. After learning that all of the children had eaten the burgers, health authorities ordered a recall of 10 tons of frozen beef products.

Currently, 7 children, aging between 20 months and 8 years, remain in the hospital after experiencing the severe symptoms of E. coli infection including bloody diarrhea. Three of the children were treated with kidney dialysis after developing the life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). According to the most recent update from Stephane Leteurte, head of the pediatric recovery unit at the hospital in Lille, however, 6 children have reached stable levels and will hopefully be discharged soon.

Unfortunately, the condition of one child has rapidly deteriorated. After suffering from acute kidney failure and neurological damage, the 2 year old child was placed in a medically induced coma and requires respiratory assistance.

On Friday, June 17, 2011, French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand also noted that health authorities are investigating two new suspected cases of E. coli, a young adult and a 10 year old child, that may also be linked to tainted hamburgers. According to the regional health chief, Daniel Lenoir, the two latest victims also consumed the same beef patties and subsequently suffered from diarrhea.