French supermarkets admit to selling salmonella contaminated Lactalis products after recall

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Health inspectors have discovered, for example, that several retailers, including supermarkets and pharmacies, had continued to keep the affected products on their shelves despite the recall order. "There has been unacceptable behavior which should be punished", Le Maire told a news conference.

That health scare caused distrust in locally produced infant formula and benefited foreign suppliers such as Nestle, Danone and Lactalis.

The recall affected goods carrying the Picot, Milumel and Taranis brands destined for French and overseas markets and France's consumer protection agency DGCCRF has begun an investigation and carried out 2,500 checks so far.

France is one of the major exporters of food, such as wine and dairy products.

"The state took over from a company which failed in its actions", he said.

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"Our group has since the beginning behaved like a responsible company and of course it will continue to do so", Michel Nalet, Lactalis' head of communication, told reporters.

But French retailers Carrefour, Auchan 52 and Systeme-U Leclerc said this week that the recalled products were still available to buy after the halt.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against French dairy giant Lactalis by families who say their children got salmonella poisoning after drinking powdered milk made by the company, an association representing victims said Friday.

The Minister then called on the managers, "each of them, the manufacturers, the intermediaries, the distributors ... to shed light on the omissions found and to make sure that none of the products concerned in this case are in the market and in stores ".

"Today, no reopening date can be considered until we have correctly and precisely defined the source of the infection and until it is clearly identified and eliminated", the minister also noted, while Lactalis announced a little earlier the implementation of partial unemployment measures for 250 employees of the Cactus Lactalis plant.

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