Lactalis Salmonella cases suspected in Spain, Greece

Lactalis Salmonella cases suspected in Spain, Greece

France's finance minister has threatened to levy sanctions after major supermarkets admitted selling possibly contaminated baby milk.

President Emmanuel Macron said he ordered ministers to meet with retailers including Carrefour SA and Casino Guichard Perrachon SA to discuss the failure to withdraw dairy company Lactalis SA's salmonella-infected baby food products from store shelves.

"This is a major dysfunction in the withdrawal and recall by the operators, who bear responsibility", Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told reporters.

After Leclerc last Tuesday, many other big distributors announced yesterday that they sold products from the withdrawn lots: 434 baby milk packages and cereal products from Carrefour, 384 milk packages from Systeme U and 52 from Auchan.

Hypermarket chain Casino, which also owns the Franprix and Geant franchises, was the latest to come forward on Thursday, saying it had sold a total of 363 items covered by the recall.

He said the ban on Lactalis products from the factory would continue indefinitely, while the contamination was investigated.

"The two cases involved children who drank the milk in question", said François-Xavier Weill, a bacteriologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, confirming a report in the Eurosurveillance medical journal.

The recall covers a range of powdered milk marketed globally under the Milumel, Picot and Celi brands, and affects products shipped outside of France.

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".

The plant has been at a standstill since December 8 and said Thursday it put 250 of its 327 staff on shorter working hours until at least early next month.

The initial recall only concerned products made since February 2017.

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain, and are extremely unsafe for infants.

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