PARIS (AP) _ Two people, including a newborn infant, have died and four others poisoned by listeria, a potent bacteria that has tainted some French meat products, officials said Friday.

A newborn baby was infected while in the womb and died later, while an elderly person died after eating meat produced by Coudray, a company based in Sarthe, in northwestern France, officials said. The company's products have been removed from supermarkets.

Four other cases of poisoning have been discovered, according to the National Institute of Public Health Surveillance.

All cases concern the same potentially deadly bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes. The Agriculture Ministry on Thursday described the outbreak as a ``serious listeria alert.''

``The factory has been closed for cleaning and disinfection and will not reopen until these measures have proved efficient,'' the ministry said in a statement.

Listeria is found most often in cheese and meat products. Infections can be fatal if not quickly treated with antibiotics.

Pregnant women or people with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to the virus. The disease can take up to eight weeks to incubate, with symptoms that include fever, headaches and nausea.

Officials said the bacteria was found in pork tongue and pots and slices of rillette produced at the Sarthe factory. Rillette is a coarsely chopped pate in which fat is added. It is a commonly eaten food in France.