17/01/18: Salmonella contamination raises question over food safety in France

logo-Lactalis-baby-milk-powderA salmonella contamination affair has put food safety in the limelight in France and raised questions over how to avoid another health scare wave.

Thirty-five infants, who had consumed infant milk products manufactured by Lactalis’ factory in Craon in northwest France, have been confirmed with a salmonella infection. Lactalis is a family-owned dairy group based in Laval in the west of France.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday admitted that “there was an abnormal failure.”

He said consumer safety was “not negotiable.” “We have to take time to make the diagnosis with all the concerned actors.”

The country’s consumer protection agency the DGCCRF on Dec. 10 ordered the suspension of the sale and export of several baby food products made at the Lactalis Craon plant.

“All these elements led … to consider that the measures taken by the company were not likely to control the risk of contamination of products intended for young children’s feeding,” the agency said.

In an interview with a local newspaper, Lactalis chief executive Emmanuel Besnier rejected critics of the contamination’s mismanagement.

“We have never ignored the risk of salmonellosis. The recall is a maximum precaution. Our job is to put healthy products on the market … But we consider that there were no failures on our part on the procedures,” Besnier told the weekly Le Journal de Dimanche.

He also proposed to pay damages to the families of 35 infected babies.

Quentin Guillemain, the president of the victims’ families association, said, “families want the truth. They are not waiting for compensations but that such a scandal is not renewed.”

The food safety affair worsened after France’s retailers including Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc admitted they sold the products recalled in December.

On Tuesday, Le Maire is scheduled to meet the National Consumer Council to discuss ways to improve withdrawal and recall procedures.

The salmonella agona bacteria is dangerous for young and elderly people and can provoke severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

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