Lactalis has been allowed to restart sales of infant formula made at a plant in France that was behind a Salmonella outbreak in 2017.
Authorities in Mayenne, a department in France, and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food authorized the resumption of sales of the infant formula from the site in Craon almost nine months after it had been suspended.
In July, the company was allowed to resume drying and packing infant milk powders without commercialising them.
The president of an association for the families of victims from the Salmonella outbreak said the decision was a “betrayal” and that state authorities had acted too fast.
Quentin Guillemain, head of AFVLCS, said a meeting with authorities in Mayenne was planned for next week but allowing sale of infant milk products had not been mentioned. The families of the association called for a boycott of Lactalis products and brands of the group such as Milumel and Picot.
French officials said during the last two months the company has implemented a reinforced self-control plan on products and the environment to validate its new methods for controlling health risks. Tests on the production of powders for adults at Craon were given the all-clear to be marketed earlier this year.
Unannounced inspections of the production site and the internal control system put in place by Lactalis have been carried out as well as official analyses to guarantee safety ahead of allowing products to market. More regular and unannounced inspections are planned for the future.
Lactalis will provide the authorities in Mayenne with regular updates on the results of its self-check plan and it must notify them if there is any detection of Salmonella either in finished products or the production environment.
Production was suspended in December 2017 as part of a Salmonella agona outbreak investigation.
The outbreak, linked to Lactalis infant formula, sickened 38 babies in France, two in Spain and one in Greece last year. Recalled formula was distributed to more than 80 countries – it is not clear where and when the products made at Craon that can now be marketed will be seen on shelves.
Corrective measures by Lactalis included cleaning, dismantling of equipment and closure of the No. 1 tower, which was the origin of contaminations in 2005 and 2017.
Foodwatch France said the decision to allow commercialization was “hasty and unacceptable.” The consumer organization added there is no guarantee that the “many dysfunctions” in the Lactalis case will not happen again.
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