French retailers sold Lactalis baby milk after salmonella recall

Baby food scandal hits France

The government is now hoping to limit reputational damage.

Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Auchan and Systéme U all continued to offer Lactalis baby milk after a recall had been issued last December. Three dozen children have fallen ill. The recall also risks damaging Lactalis in China, a fast-growing market for baby food and dairy products.

Privately-held Lactalis, which has annual sales of around 17 billion euros ($20 billion), has addressed the salmonella contamination by halting operations at the factory where it started.

Le Maire said initial checks showed recalled products had remained on sale at 91 sites in France, but there were no indications so far that potentially contaminated products had been exported.

"We have to win back the trust of our customers", he said.

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Speaking from a press conference in Rome, Macron hit out at dairy giant Lactalis after major supermarkets acknowledged this week that millions of baby food products recalled in December over fears of salmonella contamination still made it onto French shelves.

"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.

The French government is threatening to sanction some of the country's top supermarkets after they admitted recalled baby foods made by Lactalis had still found their way into shops.

Desouches claimed the recall was complex and rejected the suggestion that Systéme U had taken too long to respond. On Thursday, Lactalis announced the temporary lay off of 250 workers.

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

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