Baby milk formula maker Lactalis has ordered a worldwide product recall over fears of salmonella contamination. Health authorities in France said 26 infants in the country have become sick since early December. It covers millions of baby milk powder products marketed globally under the Milumel, Picot and Celi brands. The recall affects customers in Britain, Greece, Morocco, Sudan, Peru, Colombia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. The United States, a major market for Lactalis, is not affected, according to information published on the French health ministry’s website.
The symptoms of salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and fever. Most people recover without treatment, but young children, as well as the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, have a greater risk of becoming severely ill. Then hospital care will be necessary because the dehydration caused by the illness can be life-threatening.
The company said a possible source of the outbreak has been identified in a tower used to dry out the milk at a production site in May. Disinfection and cleaning measures have been put in place at the suspected site in western France. The health scare started earlier this month when Lactalis was told that 20 infants under six months of age had been diagnosed with salmonella infection.
The company ordered a first recall that has now been extended to more products at the request of French authorities following new cases of infections. French company Lactalis, one of the largest dairy groups in the world, is headquartered in Laval, western France. It has 75,000 employees in 85 countries and annual revenues of about 17 billion euros ($20 billion). Its other notable brands include President and Galbani cheeses and Parmalat milk.