March 21, 2018

Baby food scandal hits France

13 January 2018, 04:46 | Cesar Cruz

French retailers sold baby milk after salmonella recall

France laments ‘dysfunction’ in baby milk recall

Four of France's largest supermarket chains have admitted to stocking infant formula products despite concerns they were contaminated with salmonella.

Health inspectors have discovered, for example, that several retailers, including supermarkets and pharmacies, had continued to keep the affected products on their shelves despite the recall order.

It has been particularly embarrassing for the government after President Emmanuel Macron pushed food exports during a state visit to China this week.

Lactalis Nutrition Santé recalled over 600 batches (more than 7,000 tonnes) of products manufactured at a factory in Craon from 15 February previous year.

"The aim of this radical step is simple: to avoid delays, problems in sorting batches and the risk of human error", Le Maire told a news conference on Friday.

France is one of the major exporters of food, such as wine and dairy products.

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The recall included products aimed for export to some 30 countries, including to China, and overall represented more than 12 million baby food tins in what Nalet said was the biggest recall Lactalis had ever experienced.

The company took internal recall procedures which led to the removal and destruction of more than 36,000 products but said the 52 products had "escaped the vigilance" of its teams.

On Thursday, a spokesman for Lactalis, Michel Nalet, apologised once again to parents, adding that the firm was working "in flawless collaboration" with French officials to contain the outbreak. Earlier today, it announced that it was temporarily laying off 250 of the 327 staff employed at the site in Craon.

Retailers Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan and Systeme U independently said products including infant formula milk had remained on their shelves after the recall last December, deepening a health scare which has prompted a French inquiry after three dozen children fell ill.

A French judicial investigation was launched in December and consumer protection association UFC-Que Choisir said it had filed a lawsuit against Lactalis for alleged fraud.

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