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French dairy group Lactalis has ordered a global product recall following the discovery of salmonella cases in babies and the subsequent ban of its formula milk and baby food by France’s economic ministry.
The affected Lactalis products have been recalled in France and for export to markets including Europe, Africa, South America and China. It covers hundreds of baby milk powder products marketed globally under the Milumel, Picot and Celi brands.
The contamination of Lactalis products with salmonella is worse than initially thought.
In early December, Lactalis informed the French authorities of 20 cases of salmonella in infants aged less than six months after they had consumed the group’s products. Lactalis then recalled 12 of its infant products.
But last week five new salmonella cases were reported, including one baby that had been fed a Lactalis product not on the first recall list. The infants have now recovered.
The French economic ministry has published a list of 620 batches of Lactalis products that have been recalled and banned for consumption and export, which equates to almost 7,000 tonnes of goods.
Lactalis said it believed the contamination happened at one of its drying towers in early May this year. As a precaution, it has decided to recall all products manufactured since February 15 2017 and has shut down the relevant facilities for cleaning and disinfection.
Lactalis is one of the world’s biggest dairy producers and has 229 production sites in 43 countries, according to its website. The family-owned dairy group is based in Laval in the west of France and is known for brands including Président butter and Rachel’s Organic yoghurt. Last year it recorded revenues of €17bn.
Lactalis said on Sunday it was sorry for the contamination. Its spokesman Michel Nalet told BFM Television that the products could be exchanged in pharmacies or supermarkets. He said that any salmonella bacteria would be killed by boiling the milk for two minutes.