The CEO of Lactalis has said he cannot rule out the possibility that babies have consumed Zalmonella-contaminated milk from his company’s Craon site between 2005 and last year.
Twelve months before Lactates took over the site, in 2005,150 infants became sick.
Emmanuel Besnier, the CEO of Lactalis, spoke about the uncertainty surrounding the extent of the salmonella outbreak traced back to a single Lactalis plant at the end of last year when he was recently interviewed for French newspaper Les Échos. The outbreak, which erupted in December, infected at least 36 infants and sparked a recall of the multinational company’s milk formula worldwide.
Prior to December 2017, the company had no evidence to say that contaminated produce may have stemmed from the Craon site in 2005. Last year’s outbreak, he said, was started after works had been carried out on the floors and partitions in a drying tower.
According to the World Health Organisation, 35 confirmed cases of Salmonella Agona infections among infants aged less than six months had been identified in different regions of France. Sixteen infants have been hospitalised but all had fully recovered and no deaths have been reported.
The outbreak was associated with consumption of four different brands of infant formula, including products designed for infants with special medical needs. On December 10, Lactalis Nutrition Santé withdrew and recalled over 600 batches (more than 7000 tonnes) of implicated products that were manufactured from February 15, 2017. The implicated infant formula products had been distributed internationally to more than 50 countries and territories.
Mr Besnier said he could not provide an accurate estimate of how much the outbreak had cost Lactalis but it was likely to be hundreds of millions of Euros.