France blames Lactalis, retailers in deepening baby food scare
France, seeking to limit reputational damage to its agri-business industry, threatened on Thursday to impose sanctions after the country’s biggest supermarkets said recalled baby foods made by Lactalis had still found their way onto shop shelves.
The admissions by Carrefour (CARR.PA), Leclerc, Auchan [AUCH.UL] and Systeme U deepened a salmonella health scare that began in early December when France’s consumer protection agency ordered the halt to sales and a global recall of products from its Craon factory. Three dozen children have fallen ill.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire bluntly laid the blame on Lactalis, one of the world’s largest dairy groups, and the retailers as he tried to stem the fallout over the salmonella contamination.
Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, particularly for young children, and the recall risks damaging Lactalis in China, a fast-growing market for baby food and dairy products where consumers are highly sensitive after melamine-tainted baby milk led to the deaths of six children in 2008.