France plunges into chaos over contaminated milk
By Gong Ming
People's Daily app


The logo of Lactalis. (File photo)

Paris (People's daily)-The tainted milk of French dairy group Lactalis continues to make waves after Lactalis withdrew last December nearly 620 lots of its infant milk products,or more than 10,000 tons, contaminated with salmonella.

It all began with Leclerc, a big French distribution group, which acknowledged on Tuesday that its sale of nearly 1,000 cans of infant milk potentially contaminated and recalled by Lactalis. All major retailers found similar failures and confessed on Wednesday that they continued to sell banned products on their shelves after December 21, including some very important distributors. Media say the entire French distribution is shaking while consumers are panicking.

"Sanctions are to be taken if necessary," said French President Emmanuel Macron during his stay in Rome. He also urged Bruno Le Maire, minister of economy, to gather all the involved protagonists for an explanation. The meeting is supposed to be held on Friday.

"This case is serious, it has resulted in unacceptable practices that must be sanctioned," said Le Maire. Lactalis, under a preliminary investigation of Paris prosecutors since December 22, is the first target of  the French government, which is also being questioned by consumers for its role.

All the sellers made their mea culpa on these failures and established a list of their faults. But many of the distributors blamed Lactalis for the illegal sales.

Lactalis denied any discord with economic and sanitary services for the recall as well as the ongoing investigation. Globally, "all products of 2017 coming from the site Craon have been withdrawn from the markets," the company said.

French newspaper Le Figaro said that despite the“honest postures”by recognizing their part of the fault, it seems that all players are returning the ball. Many acknowledge their wrongdoing and it is ultimately their responsibility. If no complaint has so far been reported abroad, the case has begun to have an economic impact in France. Lactalis realizes every year more than 20 billion euros in turnover. At its Craon site shut down since December 8, 250 employees are on short-time work.

Authorities confirmed that 35 sick babies in late December, but the association of victim families of contaminated milk listed“at least 200 baby patients and 60 hospitalizations.”