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France laments 'dysfunction' in baby milk recall

13 January 2018

Lactalis, one of the world's largest producers of dairy products, issued a recall in December for of all products made at its factory in Craon in north-west France, after discovering salmonella bacteria at the site.

But Thierry Desouches also denied there was any malice in the retailers" actions, questioning whether they would intentionally risk their reputations to keep stocking a product for "derisory' profits.

"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.

Le Maire fired harsh criticism against Lactalis before the press conference, calling it a "failing company".

He also summoned retail industry leaders to his ministry later on Thursday, and said he would meet on Friday with Lactalis managers who were responsable for the safety of their products and been "found lacking", he said.

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.

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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 it received three recall messages from Lactalis concerning infant nutrition products.

Lactalis said the contamination was due to renovation work on the factory.

Some of the retailers concerned have accepted joint responsibility, but it's still not clear how the recall was bungled.

The group stopped all activities at the site on 8 December and 250 of the 327 workers are subject to partial unemployment measures since the start of this week. The illness, caused by intestinal bacteria from farm animals, is especially unsafe for the very young and elderly because it can cause severe dehydration.

Lactalis is under investigation over the affair.

France laments 'dysfunction' in baby milk recall