Lactalis was reportedly aware of the salmonella contamination at a plant in France in August – four months before regulatory officials ordered the recall of several products.
Several media outlets in France yesterday and today have a cited a report from the Le Canard Enchaîné weekly that claims Lactalis knew of salmonella at the facility in Craon after internal investigations carried out in August and in November but, not being obliged to publish the information, kept it confidential.
In between the two internal investigations, in September, the French Ministry of Agriculture visited the site and found no trace of salmonella.
However, another investigation by ministry officials in December detected some contamination.
On 2 December, French officials announced 20 babies under six months had been infected with salmonella and the authorities withdrew batches of infant milk marketed under three Lactalis brands.
The following week, on 10 December, French officials reported five more cases of infection and ordered a recall of products shipped to markets including the UK, China, Greece and Colombia.
On 21 December, Lactalis widened the recall to include its nutritional product Taranis and said it was recalling all infant formula and nutritional products made at the factory since 15 February as a precaution.
Lactalis has said the site stopped production on 8 December. Le Canard Enchaîné has claimed the plant had stopped manufacturing infant formula but continued to make cereals.
Approached by just-food for a reaction to the Le Canard Enchaîné report, Lactalis had not returned a request for comment at the time of writing.