French dairy firm Lactalis to recall millions of powered milk products

Millions of boxes of powdered baby formula are to be withdrawn from the market internationally after a Salmonella scare at a French dairy firm, Lactalis.

Lactalis’ chief executive officer said he expects to recall up to 12 million boxes of its powdered milk from shop shelves across 83 countries.

It follows claims the company hid a Salmonella outbreak at one of its factories. In response, all powdered milk products made at Lactalis’ Craon factory in Mayenne, north-west France, are being recalled regardless of the date of manufacture.

Lactalis is one of the biggest dairy product manufacturers in the world, with claims to be the biggest cheese manufacturer in the world, and the European leader within the milk (consumption), butter and cream markets.

The firm is also a major player in the chilled dairy and dairy ingredients categories, as well as the food-service industry. Recently, Lactalis had also been focusing on building its market share of the clinical and infant nutrition markets.

Lactalis chief executive Emmanuel Besnier told the French press: “We must take account of the scale of this operation; more than 12 million boxes are affected. They know that everything has to be removed from the shelves.”

Hundreds of families are reported to have filed lawsuits against the firm, claiming that their children got  salmonella poisoning after drinking the milk.

Officials in France say there have been 35 cases of infants getting salmonella from the powder so far. International media also claim there has been one case reported in Spain and another in Greece.

However, a group representing those affected claims the numbers have been underestimated.


A translated version of the statement posted on the company’s website describes the recall as a “maximum precautionary principle”.

It adds: “We would like to extend our sincere apologies to the families concerned. We measure the magnitude of the situation and understand the anxiety and the major disruption it generates.

“The fight against food contamination is a continuous, ongoing struggle. Despite all the measures put in place, a source of contamination could develop within the plant.”

The firm recommended that consumers stop using products involved in the recall immediately.