Dairy products company Lactalis has said that it will withdraw 12 million boxes of powdered baby milk. The news come after supermarkets revealed that products recalled over fears of salmonella contamination still made it to some shelves across the country.
Emmanuel Besnier, CEO of Lactalis, said earlier today that more than 12 million boxes are affected. The CEO has denied that the company attempted to hide the discovery of salmonella at the factory.
More than 30 cases involving salmonella contaminated products have been reported so far. 35 cases have been reported in France alone while another has been reported in Spain. Health officials are also looking at another case in Greece.
Reports say traces of salmonella bacteria were found near the Craon factory in August and November. The CEO explained that the discovery didn’t raise major concern because they had no element showing that their products had been affected.
A few days ago, some supermarkets in the country confirmed that products subject to recalls last month still reached shelves. The factory has been closed since December and the company plans to restart production in a few months. The CEO added that they’ll restart production when they can guarantee health safety.
Besnier has also said that there are complaints and there will be an investigation with which they will fully cooperate. The CEO met with the finance minister on Friday to discuss the situation.
A Lactalis spokesman told the BBC that all the affected countries had been told about the situation. The spokesman revealed that the US, UK and Australia were not affected. The products have been recalled in 83 countries.
The scandal has led to hundreds of lawsuits from families who say that their children got salmonella from the contaminated milk. An organization representing the victims said on Friday that several hundreds more want to file lawsuits and will do so in the next few days.
The condition of the children affected in Spain and Greece has not been disclosed but health authorities in France have confirmed that the 18 children who were hospitalized have been released and are okay.
Lactalis, the largest dairy products group in the world, has 15,000 employees in France and 75,000 in total across the world. The company has more than 240 production sites and owns brands such as Stonyfield Farm and Parmalat.