Following their global recall last year, the dairy giant Lactalis has issued further warnings to consumers over the safety of its baby milk products. Lactalis were accused of selling contaminated infant milk in 83 countries across the world, including China, Greece and Pakistan. The company said that the products that were found to contain salmonella bacteria during the recent scandal may have been contaminated for nearly thirteen years.
Following investigations into the outbreak, Lactalis confirmed that the outbreak, which resulted in 26 infants becoming ill with salmonella poisoning in France, was linked to one of the drying towers at its factory in north-west France. This is the same strain that was linked to a previous outbreak in 2005. “It can not be ruled out that babies have consumed contaminated milk during this period,” Lactalis CEO Emmanueal Besnier said.
The statement also said that the contamination seen recently “can by explained by successive periods of works starting at the beginning of 2017 to take down partitioning walls and perform floor repairs in the building” . However, Besnier noted that the bacteria how now been contained “due to the sanitary barriers and the procedures that are put in place.”
Lactalis is a major global player in the dairy market. According to its website, it’s “the number one dairy company in the world”, and it’s feared that this scandal will leave a stain on its otherwise good reputation. The company produces some of the world’s most recognizable brands including President and Galbani. They also employ over 75,000 people in 44 different countries.
Although it’s predicted that this scandal will cost the company millions is lost sales, Bensier said that the company is working to ensure quality control for the production of its products will be improved. He added that he doesn’t believe that it will cost “hundreds of millions”. Lactalis has also stressed that only one of its towers will be shut down and that it has no plans of withdrawing from the infant milk market.
They have said that they are still investigating why the tests that are carried out failed to pick up on the contamination last year. Lactalis carries out thousands of safety checks on its products, and have admitted they shouldn’t have been allowed to leave the factory. “If the analyzes on finished products had revealed the presence of Salmonella Agona, it is certain that we would not have distributed the products and would have avoided the crisis,” the company said.
“We will greatly strengthen our infant formula inspection programs,” Besnier added. The company has confirmed that the families of those infants who were affected by the contaminated products will be compensated, and further tests will be carried out to confirm that their baby milk will be safe in the future.