France blames Lactalis, retailers in baby food scare

Leslie Hanson
January 13, 2018

But several retailers admitted this week that they had continued to sell the manufacturer's affected products even after the ban.

Seeking to mitigate any damage, Le Maire said the blame laid squarely on the shoulders of Lactalis, one of the world's largest dairies, and retailers after two recalls were issued for infant formula and other products.

Hypermarket chain Casino, which also owns the Franprix and Geant franchises, was the latest to come forward on Thursday, saying it had sold a total of 363 items covered by the recall.

The Systeme-U, Auchan, and Casino retail giants also sold the products.

"The Greek case has not, but the signs are there", he said, adding that so far only phenotype testing had been carried out to compare the bacteria strain of the Lactalis product with the strain in the child.

"If there had been a little more responsibility from the Lactalis side, this situation would not occur", he said.

"This hasn't been taken seriously enough", Jean-Yves Mano, president of consumer association CLCV said on the radio station France Info Thursday.

Carrefour has moved to pull all products from the infected factory and not just the 12 batches included in the government's recall order, the company said in a statement.

The recall covers a range of powdered milk marketed globally under the Milumel, Picot and Celi brands, and affects products shipped outside of France.

In December 2017, at least 35 infants in France fell ill after being fed tainted products.

Calling Lactalis' practices "unacceptable", Macron said that "food security of all French and European citizens is a priority that must be guaranteed at the highest levels".

The government ordered the recall and a halt to the sale of the products last month. Earlier today, it announced that it was temporarily laying off 250 of the 327 staff employed at the site in Craon. Salmonella can cause severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and sever dehydration. The illness, caused by intestinal bacteria from farm animals, is especially risky for the very young and elderly because it can cause severe dehydration.

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