PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - French retailers, defending their
role in a contaminated baby milk scandal on Wednesday, said they
had received products after the recall deadline and that
communication by dairy producer Lactalis was confusing.
Lactalis, one of the world's largest dairy groups, recalled
12 million tins in France and around the world after babies were
taken ill last year after drinking salmonella-contaminated milk
produced at a factory in western France.
Representatives from retailers Carrefour, Casino
, Leclerc, Intermarche, Auchan, Systeme U and Cora,
speaking at a hearing of the French Senate's Economic Affairs
Committee on the health scare on Wednesday, did however admit to
some responsibility for products remaining on their store
Several families and consumer associations have filed
complaints against Lactalis and retailers over the scandal,
which also threatens to damage the reputation of France's
strategic agri-business industry in overseas markets.
Retailers said Lactalis had delivered recalled products
after the date when they should have been removed from the
Auchan's Secretary General Franck Geretzhuber said that
after the Dec. 21 recall, Auchan received a delivery of the
Lactalis products affected by the recall on Dec. 29 while Dufort
said Lactalis products were delivered to Carrefour on Dec. 14
even though they had been recalled on Dec. 10.
Lactalis was not immediately available to comment.
Some of the retailers, including Carrefour, Leclerc and
Auchan admitted to human errors after some Lactalis products
that had been returned by clients found their way back on to
store shelves. All retailers however pointed to confused and
slow communication from Lactalis.
"Our processes were robust but destabilised by the erratic
communication of our supplier, who multiplied unclear messages,"
Casino's head of external communications Claude Risac said.
Leclerc, Auchan, Carrefour, Casino and Systeme U have all
acknowledged that some of the baby milk remained on their
shelves after the recall that began in early December.
Two complaints by families are already targeting Auchan and
"At Carrefour, the fault comes from poor management of the
products returned to the stores by clients," Carrefour's head of
quality Stephane Dufort told the committee.
Salmonella infections can be life-threatening and the
families of three dozen children who have fallen sick in France
as a result of the contaminated baby milk have announced a raft
Lactalis CEO Emmanuel Besnier said earlier this month that
Lactalis could have been producing salmonella-tainted baby milk
at the factory in Craon since 2005. He said the crisis was
likely to cost the company hundreds of millions of euros.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Sybille de la Hamaide;
Editing by Susan Fenton)
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.