Lactalis will have to take back all the batches of infant milk produced in its plant of Craon (Mayenne), affected by a contamination with salmonella, announced Friday the Minister of the Economy, whereas an association evoked “hundreds” of complaints against the industrialist.
Extending the previous reminder from February 2017, the Minister Bruno Le Maire wishes to put an end to a health crisis all the more resounding that we learned a few minutes after his press briefing that a case of proven salmonellosis had been discovered in Spain about a baby who has consumed this contaminated infant milk. Another case remains to be confirmed in Greece.
In order to put an end to the family’s anxiety and to prevent this scandal from coming to the “reputation” of a French dairy industry already in crisis, Mr. Le Mayor asked “(Emmanuel) Besnier, the president of Lactalis, to be more transparent ”
The minister finally appeared alone in front of the press, after having received the very secret boss of the group who, despite a call to come to express himself publicly launched by the government, arrived at Bercy by a secret entry, avoiding cameras.
“The president of Lactalis will publicly communicate on the causes of contamination as soon as they are established,” however assured the Mayor.
“Lactalis will then make all the necessary investments on the site of Craon to guarantee the safety of the site,” he added, implicitly rejecting the specter of a closure of the factory currently at a standstill, including 250 of 327 employees are unemployed.
The distributors, some of whom continued to sell potentially contaminated products after the announcement of their withdrawal, had already been summoned to Bercy on Thursday night. The head of E.Leclerc centers, Michel-Edward Leclerc, Thursday mentioned a “failure” of government services.
Several politicians and trade union officials also criticized the attitude of the state, denouncing in particular a decline in the budget and staff at the DGCCRF, the service of Bercy responsible for the repression of fraud.
– Three reminders –
The controls already carried out have made it possible to find potentially contaminated boxes of milk in supermarkets, but also in pharmacies, crèches and hospitals.
The association of families victims of salmonella-contaminated milk for its part announced that “hundreds” of parents of infants had lodged all over France against Lactalis, for having marketed this milk.
Salmonella contamination in the Craon plant was revealed in early December to the public.
Salmonella was however identified earlier by the group during self-checks in August and November, but only in the site environment and not in the products.
“Our hypothesis is that salmonella was present and that there was a resurgence during work that we carried out during the first half of the year,” said spokesman Michel Nalet on Thursday during a meeting. press.
The Ministry of Agriculture had for its part claimed in early January to have “not known” of the results of self-audits conducted by the group.
It is then the reminder of batches of infant milk in three stages in December that sowed discord. In the absence of an agreement with Lactalis, the Minister of the Economy explained that he himself had to sign a decree on 9 December calling for the suspension of the marketing of infant milks and the recall of some 600 batches, ie 11,000 tons.
At the end of December, the Paris public prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary inquiry into “unintentional injuries”, “endangering the lives of others”, “deception aggravated by the danger to human health” and “failure to perform a withdrawal procedure”. or recall of a product “detrimental to health.
As of January 9, the health authorities had identified in France 35 infants with salmonellosis who had consumed milk or infant food from the offending Lactalis plant.
Eighteen infants were hospitalized, but all had been discharged from hospital, according to the same source.
On the side of the agricultural unions, the president of the FNSEA Christiane Lambert affirmed in the early evening to have obtained an “agreement in principle” from the president of Lactalis to meet him “early next week”, having called for such an interview, without specify neither the date nor the place of this meeting.
bur-ef-ngu-lby / AS / st / az

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