French supermarkets admit to selling salmonella contaminated Lactalis products after recall


French dairy group Lactalis is widening a product recall to cover all baby milk manufactured by a factory at the center of a salmonella contamination, Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

The government ordered the recall and a halt to the sale of the products last month.

It has been particularly embarrassing for the government after President Emmanuel Macron pushed food exports during a state visit to China this week. "There has been unacceptable behavior which should be punished", Le Maire told a news conference. The health scare in China caused distrust in locally produced infant formula and benefited foreign suppliers such as Nestle, Danone and Lactalis.

So far French officials have reported 35 cases of children getting salmonella poisoning from the contaminated milk powder, while one case has been reported in Spain and another is being investigated in Greece.

"Several hundreds more want to file suit, and will do so in the coming days", he said.

"Today, no reopening date can be considered until we have correctly and precisely defined the source of the infection and until it is clearly identified and eliminated", the minister also noted, while Lactalis announced a little earlier the implementation of partial unemployment measures for 250 employees of the Cactus Lactalis plant.

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

In December it received three recall messages from Lactalis concerning infant nutrition products.

On Thursday, a spokesman for Lactalis, Michel Nalet, apologised once again to parents, adding that the firm was working "in flawless collaboration" with French officials to contain the outbreak.

In a statement on Thursday, Carrefour said it had sold 434 products at risk of contamination since the December 21 recall, but that another 95,000 had been successfully removed from shelves.