Supermarkets sold Lactalis infant formula despite recall due to Salmonella

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But French retailers Carrefour, Auchan 52 and Systeme-U Leclerc said this week that the recalled products were still available to buy after the halt. Privately owned Lactalis exports its products to dozens of countries across Europe, Africa and Asia.

"I can not guarantee that right now there isn't a single tin of baby milk left on a shelf in a giant warehouse or in a pharmacy", Le Maire said.

Several markets on Tuesday admitted to selling French baby-milk maker Lactalis' products that could have been possibly contaminated with salmonella virus.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday that the anti-fraud unit DGCCRF would undertake 2,500 additional checks next week.

But on Thursday Lactalis spokesman Michel Nalet said the company had "worked in flawless collaboration with state agencies" since the start of the crisis in December.

The head of the Leclerc supermarket chain, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, also looked to pin blame on French "state services".

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In December 2017, at least 35 infants in France fell ill after being fed tainted products.

Le Maire did not say what volume of baby milk could be involved beyond the more than 12 million items already recalled last month. Means must be found not to repeat situations of this kind, "he underlined". Earlier today, it announced that it was temporarily laying off 250 of the 327 staff employed at the site in Craon.

"This is a major malfunction in the process of recall by the managers, to whom responsibility lies", the minister said in the margins of a press conference that he presented for the presentation of the worldwide exhibition of agricultural products expected to be held by the end of February, every year, in Paris.

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

Lactalis is under investigation over the affair and could face charges of causing involuntary injuries and endangering the lives of others.