The French government on Thursday warns those responsible after a “major dysfunction” in a recall of contaminated baby milk.
“This is a serious matter. There has been unacceptable behavior, which should be punished,” said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Lactalis, one of the world’s largest producers of dairy products, in December issued a recall of all products made at its factory in Craon, Northwest France, after discovering salmonella bacteria at the site.
But several retailers admitted this week that they had continued to sell the brand’s milk even after the ban.
Supermarket chain Carrefour said Wednesday it had sold 434 boxes of Lactalis baby milk that should have been withdrawn after the ban and so as Systeme-U, Leclerc, and Auchan.
The issue prompted the company to organize a last-minute news conference where the spokesman said that the group had been proactive in organizing a “massive recall”.
“We agreed on this recall. There was no doubt on our side that we had to do this recall. And we decided on our own accord on December 19 on a second recall which happened on December 21 so that we could stop any possible future contamination,” said Lactalis group spokesman Michel Nalet.
Countries affected include Greece in Europe, Morocco, and Sudan in Africa, Peru in South America and Pakistan, Bangladesh and China in Asia, underlining the reach of the company and the difficulty in trying to trace all the potentially at-risk powder.
It was only in December, after around 30 infants fed with Lactalis milk had fallen ill, that the health ministry sounded the alarm.
The cases of infection were linked to products called Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.
Lactalis could face charges of causing involuntary injuries and endangering the lives of others. — Reuters