French retailers sold baby milk after salmonella recall

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France's Minister of Agriculture Stephan Traver spoke of a "major malfunction" in the process of recalling milk-based Lactalis products today after distributors had announced that they had sold some of the products that should have been removed from shelves because of Salmonella contamination. Three dozen children are thought to have fallen ill.

French President Emmanuel Macron deflected blame Thursday in the latest chapter of a dairy scandal that has embarrassed the French government, major supermarkets and a dairy giant.

That health scare caused distrust in locally produced infant formula and benefited foreign suppliers such as Nestle, Danone and Lactalis.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on January 5 that one infant in Spain had fallen ill with a salmonella infection linked to contaminated Lactalis baby milk and another case in Greece was thought to be related.

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The announcement came as economy minister Bruno Le Maire said Lactalis would have to extend its product recall to all milk products at the affected production site.

Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Auchan, Cora, Casino and Système U are among retailers that said items that should have been withdrawn from shelves had been sold.

Several days later the company recalled 720 more batches of its products.

But even after that, the products were still available at supermarkets and other retailers in the country.

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The DGCCRF issued a first recall on December 10 after Lactalis discovered salmonella contamination at its Craon factory, halting the sale of several baby food products made there.

Le Maire said the DGCCRF was forced to issue a December 10 recall because Lactalis was too slow to take action.

A judicial investigation is taking place in France over the contamination and a group of French parents of affected infants said on Friday that they were considering a joint lawsuit.

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