The French dairy company Lactalis announced on Thursday that it’s quite possible the baby milk products produced at their Craon factory in north-western France could have been contaminated with salmonella for more than a decade, as Salmonella Agona was found in one of the drying towers (this is also the same strain linked to an outbreak in 2005).
Emmanueal Besnier, CEO of Lactalis told the French newspaper Les Echos, “It can not be ruled out that babies have consumed contaminated milk during this period.”1 In response to this discovery, the company recalled all their baby milk powder and cereals produced at the plant while it investigated the source of the contamination.2
But, this is now the second recall; early in December, 26 infants fell ill with salmonella poisoning in France (it’s unbelievable that only 26 were taken ill since their products are sold in 83 countries).
Besnier explained that quality controls and inspection programs for their baby milk powder will be strengthened and that the company will “compensate families of infants who were affected by tainted products,” 3 but they have no intention of withdrawing from the infant milk market. In fact, plans have begun to build a new facility.
In a statement, the company said they were “still trying to determine why 16,000 tests performed on finished products in 2017 failed to detect contamination in products made at the facility”4. They assured the public that had they found the presence of Salmonella Agona they would never have distributed the products.
The Lactalis Group calls themselves the “number one dairy company in the world” with brands that include President and Galbani. This crisis could cost them hundreds of millions of euros and put the 75,000 people they employ in 44 different countries around the world, in jeopardy.
We will update you as the story develops.