France announces extended recall of Lactalis diary products

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Le Maire had summoned Lactalis after major supermarket chains said this week that baby food products covered by the previous recall measures had been sold to consumers. Privately owned Lactalis exports its products to dozens of countries across Europe, Africa and Asia.

The cases are the first outside of France in a gathering scandal that has seen 35 children sickened in France from contaminated milk powder sold by the maker of a host of household dairy products.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday that the anti-fraud unit DGCCRF would undertake 2,500 additional checks next week.

The head of the Leclerc supermarket chain, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, also looked to pin blame on French "state services".

President Macron said that "if punishment is required, then there will be punishment".

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Calling Lactalis' practices "unacceptable", Macron said that "food security of all French and European citizens is a priority that must be guaranteed at the highest levels".

Officials from the food safety department carried out a routine inspection of the site in September and gave it a clean bill of health, the Canard Enchaine investigative weekly reported.

In December it received three recall messages from Lactalis concerning infant nutrition products. Means must be found not to repeat situations of this kind, "he underlined".

The government ordered the recall and a halt to the sale of the products last month. Earlier today, it announced that it was temporarily laying off 250 of the 327 staff employed at the site in Craon. The illness, caused by intestinal bacteria from farm animals, is especially unsafe for the very young and elderly because it can cause severe dehydration.

A judicial investigation is taking place in France over the contamination and a group of French parents of affected infants said on Friday that they were considering a joint lawsuit. Several days later the company recalled 720 more batches of its products.

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