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Lactalis Salmonella Scandal Deepens

02/08/2018

EGG-NEWS has reported on outbreaks of Salmonella Agona among babies consuming Groupe Lactalis baby formula. In 2016, 36 of 38 outbreaks in France were attributed to Lactalis products. The Craon plant acquired by Lactalis in 2006 was closed on the order of health authorities as it was regarded as the source of Salmonella infections which have been diagnosed in many nations in Europe, Africa and Asia. The Lactalis scandal has led to the recall of 12 million units of various products in 83 countries.

The CEO of Lactalis, Emmanuel Besnier noted that the scandal would cost the country hundreds of millions of Euros. In an interview Besnier noted that it was possible that the Craon plant has been an intermittent source of Salmonella infection since 2005.

Clearly the internal quality control procedures were defective and assays carried out by a private laboratory failed to detect Salmonella in finished product.

It is fortunate that despite the volume of product and the duration over which it was distributed, apparently only a few diagnosed and documented cases of Salmonella Agona were recorded. Since the Lactalis situation is regarded in the E.U. as a “health scandal of unprecedented scale” it is presumed that many cases were not diagnosed or recorded especially in developing nations which imported Lactalis baby formula.

This case illustrates the need for appropriate HACCP programs, effective surveillance for foodborne pathogens including Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli, and accurate records of production to facilitate rapid trace-back and recall.

(SMS 253-18 February 8th 2018)